The Effects of Culture and Gender on the Recognition of Emotional Speech: Evidence from Persian Speakers Living in a Collectivist Society

Document Type: Research Paper

Authors

Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Abstract

This paper reports on a behavioral study that explores the role of culture and gender in the recognition of emotional speech in an under investigated cultural context (a collectivist society: i.e., Iran). Participants were asked to recognize the emotional prosody of a set of validated emotional vocal portrayals (including the five basic emotions). Findings of the experiment were then compared with the results of a similar study performed on members of an individualist culture. Taken together, our results established that both, gender as a biologically rooted social mechanism and cultural factors modulate the recognition of emotional speech. More specifically, our findings supported the view that with regard to vocal emotions, females are more sensitive compared to males. Additionally, it was revealed that members of a collectivist culture show higher sensitivity to vocal emotional cues compared to their individualist counterparts. These findings imply that cultures that center on group harmony (i.e., collectivist cultures), may thus promote higher default levels of emotional sensitivity.

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