Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2017

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair

Anthony Stahelski

Second Committee Member

Mary Radeke

Third Committee Member

Stephen Schepman


The purpose of this study was to compare emotion and personality trait attributions to facial expressions between American and Asian Indian samples. Data were collected using’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk). Participants in this study were asked to infer the emotions and personality traits shown in three facial expressions (scowling, frowning, and smiling) of young white females and males in six photographs. Each picture was randomly presented for 10 seconds followed by four randomized questions about the individual in the picture. The first question asked participants to identify the emotion shown from a list of six emotions (anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise). The next three questions consisted of condensed sets of the Big Five personality adjective markers (Minimarkers) (Saucier, 1994), the three Self-Assessment Manikin dimensions (SAM) (Bradley & Lang, 1994), and items related to attractiveness, perceived motivation, and morality inferences. In this study, the “Halo” and “Horns” effects were hypothesized to occur for both cultures, with some cultural differences. Smiling facial expressions (male and female) were hypothesized and found to have higher emotion judgment accuracy (happiness) and more inferred positive personality traits for both cultures (attractive, not threatening, agreeable, extroverted, pleasing to look at, positive, conscientious, and open-minded). Scowling facial expressions were hypothesized to have the following attributions: anger, unattractive, threatening, excitable, close-minded, not pleasing to look at, bad, negative, dominant, disagreeable, and unconscientious. Frowning facial expressions were hypothesized to be perceived as: sad, unattractive, good, submissive, not threatening, not pleasing to look at, positive, and calm. The results for the smiling and frowning facial expressions showed high mean answer choice accuracy for both cultures regardless of gender in the photograph. Greater accuracy in emotion and trait attributions was hypothesized for U.S. participants because collectivist cultures (India) have trouble expressing and identifying negative emotions since they disturb the harmony of the social group (Matsumoto, 1989, 1992a; Schimmack, 1996). However, results showed that both cultures attributed the correct emotional inference and personality trait attributions to the six facial expressions for all four questions, except for the Indians on the scowling female facial expression across each of the four questions.