I came across a radio program yesterday that referenced a new study – cross-cultural recognition of basic emotions through nonverbal emotional vocalizations.

You can read the abstract here but in essence, the researchers studied how very different cultures (Western cultures compared with individuals from remote, culturally isolated Namibian villages) used non-verbal responses to express emotions.

They found that vocalizations communicating several negative emotions – anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise were recognized across both cultures. By contrast, most positive emotions are communicated with culture-specific signals.

If this is more widely true it has consequences for cross-cultural communication: do we read negative emotions easily but have more difficulty picking up the positives from someone from a very different culture? Maybe we need to be more explicit when expressing positives in a cross cultural context.

Article cited: Cross-cultural recognition of basic emotions through nonverbal emotional vocalizations. by Disa A. Sautera, Frank Eisnerc, Paul Ekmand and Sophie K. Scott in Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences, January 25, 2010.

About the author:

Kevan Hall Kevan Hall is a CEO, author, speaker and trainer in matrix management, virtual teams and global working. He is the author of "Speed Lead - faster, simpler ways to manage people, projects and teams in complex companies, "Making the Matrix work - how matrix managers engage people and cut through complexity", and the "Life in a Matrix" podcasts, videos, cartoons and blog. He is CEO and founder of Global Integration. Company profile: .

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