Emotion Perception Rules Abide by Cultural Display Rules: Koreans and Americans Weigh Outward Emotion Expressions (Emoticons) Differently

Eunhee Ji, Lisa K. Son, Min Shik Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current study compared emotion perception in two cultures where display rules for emotion expression deviate. In Experiment 1, participants from America and Korea played a repeated prisoner s dilemma game with a counterpart, who was, in actuality, a programmed defector. Emotion expressions were exchanged via emoticons at the end of every round. After winningmore points by defecting, the counterpart sent either a matching emoticon (a joyful face) or a mismatching emoticon (a regretful face). The results showed that Americans in the matching condition were more likely to defect, or to punish, compared to those in the mismatching condition, suggesting that more weight was given to their counterpart s joyful expression. This difference was smaller for Koreans, suggesting a higher disregard for the outward expression. In a second, supplementary experiment, we found that Korean participants were more likely to cooperate in the mismatching or regretful condition, when they thought their counterpart was a Westerner. Overall, our data suggest that emotion perception rules abide by the display rules of one s culture but are also influenced by the counterpart s culture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-103
Number of pages21
JournalExperimental Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Mar

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (2018R1A6A3A01012610) and the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2018S1A5A2A01032827).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Hogrefe Publishing GmbH. All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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