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White people struggle to perceive emotion on face of black people: Study

ANI | May 11, 2019 03:15 PM
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Washington D.C. [USA], May 11 (ANI): It is difficult for white people to identify and distinguish emotions on the faces of black people, a new study revealed. However, it doesn't happens the other way around.

The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Scientists discovered that it happens because white people lack eye contact with the black, as the former regard the latter as being different to them (part of the so-called 'outgroup').

When there is limited emotional identification with other people, communication becomes inhibited and, ultimately, this may lead to negative--even tragic--results.

The scientists conducted six experiments involving more than 425 participants. In some of these, the participants were all white; in others, they were all black; and others were based on a mixture of participants, including non-black minorities.

In all of the experiments, the participants were shown the smiling faces of white or black people and were asked to rate the level of happiness they perceived in the images. Some faces showed a genuine smile, while others presented forced or fake smiles.

Professor Rosa Rodriguez Bailon, University of Granada UGR and one of the authors of this study, explained, "Using eye-tracking equipment, we showed that paying attention to people's eyes also helps us to detect important characteristics in our perceptions and in how we form our impressions about others, such as the distinction between genuine or 'faked' emotions."

White people were more accurate in determining the expressions of other white men than the black.

No such difference was found in the case of people of colour, who were able to accurately distinguish between expressions of genuine vs fake happiness, regardless of whether the person smiling was white or black.

"We also found that the length of time the white participants devoted to looking into the eyes of other white people in the photographs explained this difference. Again, when the white participants were asked to look just as deeply into the eyes of both black and white people, this difference also disappeared," observes Professor Rodriguez.

Previous researches indicate that, of the total time we spend, on average, looking at the faces of other people and forming an impression of them, over 40% is devoted to focusing on the eyes in particular.

"By concentrating on a person's gaze, it's more likely that we will avoid some of the more harmful effects of the mistrust and lack of identification we feel towards people from groups other than our own," Rodriguez opined. (ANI)

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