Emotion Recognition Across Cultures: The Influence of Ethnicity on Empathic Accuracy and Physiological Linkage

José Angel Soto, Robert W. Levenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Scopus citations


The present study tested whether empathic accuracy and physiological linkage during an emotion recognition task are facilitated by a cultural match between rater and target (cultural advantage model) or unaffected (cultural equivalence model). Participants were 161 college students of African American, Chinese American, European American, or Mexican American ethnicity. To assess empathic accuracy-knowing what another person is feeling-participant's (raters) used a rating dial to provide continuous, real-time ratings of the valence and intensity of emotions being experienced by 4 strangers (targets). Targets were African American, Chinese American, European American, or Mexican American women who had been videotaped having a conversation with their dating partner in a previous study and had rated their own feelings during the interaction. Empathic accuracy was defined as the similarity between ratings of the videotaped interactions obtained from raters and targets. To assess emotional empathy-feeling what another person is feeling-we examined physiological linkage (similarity between raters' and targets' physiology). Our findings for empathic accuracy supported the cultural equivalence model, while those for physiological linkage provided some support for the cultural advantage model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)874-884
Number of pages11
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)

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