Americans weigh an attended emotion more than Koreans in overall mood judgments

Gaeun Son, Hee Yeon Im, Daniel N. Albohn, Kestas Kveraga, Reginald B. Adams, Jisoo Sun, Sang Chul Chong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Face ensemble coding is the perceptual ability to create a quick and overall impression of a group of faces, triggering social and behavioral motivations towards other people (approaching friendly people or avoiding an angry mob). Cultural differences in this ability have been reported, such that Easterners are better at face ensemble coding than Westerners are. The underlying mechanism has been attributed to differences in processing styles, with Easterners allocating attention globally, and Westerners focusing on local parts. However, the remaining question is how such default attention mode is influenced by salient information during ensemble perception. We created visual displays that resembled a real-world social setting in which one individual in a crowd of different faces drew the viewer's attention while the viewer judged the overall emotion of the crowd. In each trial, one face in the crowd was highlighted by a salient cue, capturing spatial attention before the participants viewed the entire group. American participants’ judgment of group emotion more strongly weighed the attended individual face than Korean participants, suggesting a greater influence of local information on global perception. Our results showed that different attentional modes between cultural groups modulate social-emotional processing underlying people’s perceptions and attributions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number19323
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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