Are non-verbal cues of cooperativeness universal?

Arnaud Tognetti, N. Yamagata-Nakashima, Charlotte Faurie, and Ryo Oda


Although both dynamic (i.e., facial expressions) and static facial traits are used as cues of altruism, only static facial traits have been shown to be cross-culturally readable with respect to altruism detection skills. To investigate whether dynamic facial cues of altruism are also cross-cultural, we asked French subjects to estimate the altruism of Japanese individuals on the basis of silent video clips. These video clips were taken from a previous experiment, which found that Japanese raters were able to accurately estimate the altruism of a videotaped Japanese individual. By using the same design and stimuli in France, we found that French raters were unable to assess the altruism of a Japanese individual. Hence, our results suggest that dynamic facial cues of altruistic intent are culturally specific rather than universally readable.

Published in

Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 127, n. 1, June 2018, pp. 139–143