Am I :-) or (^_^) ?

According to the BBC, researchers have found that how one interprets facial expressions may depend on one’s cultural upbringing.

East Asians participants tended to focus on the eyes of the other person, while Western subjects took in the whole face, including the eyes and the mouth.

Co-author, Dr Rachael Jack, from the University of Glasgow, said: “Interestingly, although the eye region is ambiguous, subjects tended to bias their judgements towards less socially-threatening emotions – surprise rather than fear, for example.

“This perhaps highlights cultural differences when it comes to the social acceptability of emotions.”

The study also raises a good point about the differences between Japanese and Western emoticons. Read the full article here to find out more.

Interestingly, an article published two years ago – citing a Japanese scientist this time – seems to lend credence to the researchers’ findings.