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Emotion. 2016 Feb;16(1):117-28. doi: 10.1037/emo0000100. Epub 2015 Sep 21.

The voice conveys emotion in ten globalized cultures and one remote village in Bhutan.

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Department of Psychology, Yale University.
Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley.
Department of History, Sherubtse College.
Department of External Relations, Royal Thimphu College.


With data from 10 different globalized cultures and 1 remote, isolated village in Bhutan, we examined universals and cultural variations in the recognition of 16 nonverbal emotional vocalizations. College students in 10 nations (Study 1) and villagers in remote Bhutan (Study 2) were asked to match emotional vocalizations to 1-sentence stories of the same valence. Guided by previous conceptualizations of recognition accuracy, across both studies, 7 of the 16 vocal burst stimuli were found to have strong or very strong recognition in all 11 cultures, 6 vocal bursts were found to have moderate recognition, and 4 were not universally recognized. All vocal burst stimuli varied significantly in terms of the degree to which they were recognized across the 11 cultures. Our discussion focuses on the implications of these results for current debates concerning the emotion conveyed in the voice.

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