post cultural specifics of reading faces

May 13th, 2008

Filed under: interesting research,working on conceptual threads — Tina @ 5:55 pm


Published: March 18, 2008


How do you know how someone is feeling? For people in Western societies, it is usually easy: look at the person’s face.

But for people from Japan and other Eastern societies, a new study finds, it may be more complex — having to do not only with evaluating the other person’s face but also with gauging the mood of others who might be around.

The differences may speak to deeply ingrained cultural traits, the authors write, suggesting that Westerners may “see emotions as individual feelings, while Japanese see them as inseparable from the feelings of the group.”

The findings are based on a study of about three dozen students in two groups — one Japanese, one Western — who were shown a series of drawings of five children. The volunteers were told that the drawings were going to be used in an educational television program and that the researchers wanted to see how realistic they were.

Sometimes the expressions of all the children in an image were the same, but more often they varied. The participants were asked to look at the face of the person at the center of the picture and rate it on a 10-point scale for happiness, sadness and anger.

The Western students did not much change their assessment of a character’s mood no matter what was happening with the other characters. But for most of the Japanese participants, it made a measurable difference. If the figure in the center had a happy face but those in the background were sad or angry, they tended to give the happy figure a lower score. If everyone was happy, they gave the figure in the center a higher one. When the images were shown to two other groups of students wearing equipment that tracked their eye movements, the researchers found that the Japanese spent more time looking at the children in the background of the pictures.

The study appears in the March issue of The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. While the study offers hints into how different the world may look to people from different cultures, it raises as many questions as answers. “We don’t know exactly what’s going on,” said the lead author, Takahiko Masuda, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Alberta in Canada.

Still, the study fits squarely in a longstanding body of research into differences between Eastern and Western perceptions of the world around us.

Researchers studying paintings from the 16th through 20th centuries, for example, have found that in Western portraits, the subject took up a larger portion of the picture and was painted in a way to make the subject stand out, the study said. In Eastern portraits, the subjects tended to be smaller and to blend into the background.

Even now, the differences often remain. When Dr. Masuda and other researchers handed students cameras in an earlier study and asked them to take portraits, the subjects filled more space in the frame of the photographs taken by the Americans.

Many researchers have suggested that East Asians take a more holistic view of the world.

In the new study on faces, the findings may also reflect social differences, said Kristi L. Lockhart, a lecturer in psychology at Yale who has studied both cultures. Where Western societies tend to promote individuality, Eastern ones emphasize the needs of the group. So when a Japanese sees a happy person amid sad ones, it may be a bit unsettling. He may adjust his view of how happy that person is “because of his real desire to fit in with the group and to not be different,” Dr. Lockhart said.

post Sponsor week at the MIT Media Lab

April 2nd, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT,interesting research — Tina @ 3:34 am


As part of the Synapse Residency, I am back at Cambridge this week – at the MIT Medialab – we timed it so I was here for sponsorweek. Sponsor week is a major twice a year event where the Media Lab sponsors have the chance to visit the lab and learn about the latest research. The Lab’s primary source of funding comes from more than 60 corporate sponsors whose businesses range from electronics to entertainment, furniture to finance, and toys to telecommunications.

Its a relationship that works for MIT, but I can imagine if you were working here it may be hard to get your head around. The sponsors get access to all the IP/research. As MIT sees it – the research may be considered too costly or too “far out” to be accommodated within a corporate environment. It is also an opportunity for corporations to bring their business challenges and concerns to the Lab to see the solutions our researchers present. When I talked to Rana about it, she mentioned she liked o see her work filter out commercially – so it becomes part of peoples everyday. Its also given her a lot of great opportunities to work with some amazing minds.

A few weeks ago, at my artist talk at the Banff New Media Institute Liminal Screen residency, I talked about the fact that I was working with MIT. A few of the artists at my talk had a few issues with it. A basic distrust. A sense of what you are creating could be taken out of your hands and implemented in ways that you may not have envisioned. I would like to spend more time talking to some of the artists here and what they think of it.

So all the representatives of major companies are here. BT, Microsoft, Intel, Nokia, Toyota, Motorola, Maya. I see many many badges walking about with names of big companies on them – all the software companies, etc.. Mostly all men. Mostly all have their heads buried into laptops.

At the moment I am watching a technological magic show by Seth Raphael – an alumni of Ros Picards affective computing group. This is followed up by a talk from James Randi, known as the The Amazing Randi – a magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. He writes about the paranormal, skepticism, and the history of magic. In the afternoon there will be tours of the lab and also talks about different projects.

Originally I was going to present some of the work of the Chameleon Project.

post to chase up – from paula levine

March 16th, 2008

Hi Tina,

Here are the references I mentioned:
1. Guillaume Benjamin Amand Duchenne –
19th century neurologist who worked with electricity to stimulate/simulate emotion. Also published a collection of photographs (new technology at the time) where he created a database of images documenting his electrical experiments on the facial muscles and the emotional states it rendered.

2. Jean-Martin Charcot (who was influenced by the work of Duchenne and who, in turn, influenced Freud in his early exploration of hypnosis and hysteria) ran the Paris Salpêtrière asylum and held public theatres of hysteria for guests where inmates, mostly women, would have hysterical fits. There’s a lot of writing on this, particularly in relationship to the history of women and hysteria. He and a photographer colleague created a large archive of images of hysterics. One particular woman was popular because of her ability to have hysterical fits on cue — her name I think was Augustine. If I remember correctly, she escaped the asylum by dressing as a man and was never seen or heard from again…

Martin Charcot

jean-martin charcot’s photograph of augustine in ecstasy


3. You mentioned Eadweard Muybridge. I know of his work with animal and human locomotion but not with photographing emotion. However he was amazingly productive so…


4. Dr. Jose Delgado from Yale and his early work with electrical stimuli and a charging bull.


post emotion meter –

March 5th, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT,interesting research — Tina @ 4:04 am

Describe the event or thoughts you had just before experiencing the Emotion. Describe some positive things about this event. If your fears came true, what’s the worst thing that could happen? If the worst thing did happen, what steps could you take? At this point the program appears to be taking a cognitive approach. Cognitive psychologists see emotions as interactions between events in your life and beliefs or expectations that you have. While not explicitly asking about beliefs or expectations, the program gets you to think about your feelings and the events that led up to them. This alone will be useful for many people.

The program’s real power is only evident when several week’s worth of emotions have been entered. The option to “review” allows you to browse through prior entries to “identify trends or scripts which are limiting your life.” You can browse all past entries, entries involving a certain emotion, entries involving a certain arena in your life, or a combination of emotion and arena (such as “anxious” about “spouse”). Here the power of the computer is used to used to help you see trends that might not otherwise be evident.

That power is even more evident when you graph or analyze your data. Simple bar graphs present trends in the data in intuitive fashion. Here you can see your “overall emotional makeup”, the trends in your emotions over time, your emotional makeup for a particular arena of your life, the progress you are making in different arenas and with different emotions. You can print the graphs in black and white or color.

post The relationship between social cognition and emotion

March 4th, 2008

The relationship between social cognition and emotion
Chair: Kevin N. Ochsner, Columbia University
Speakers: Daniela Schiller and Elizabeth Phelps, Jennifer S. Beer, Christian Keysers, Kevin N. Ochsner
Summary: It has been said that humans are the Social Animal, and that what sets us apart from other species is the complexity of our social relationships and the culture it makes possible. To understand the neural mechanisms underlying these social abilities, recent functional imaging work has attempted to clarify the neural mechanisms underlying various socially-relevant behaviors, ranging from person perception to self-regulation, empathy and imitation. Despite mounting evidence that that the neural bases of social cognition are quite similar to those of emotion, little work has attempted to explain what this similarity might mean. Each talk in this symposium will shed light on this issue. Two talks (Schiller & Phelps, Beer) will show that brain systems typically associated with emotion – the amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex – are essential for person perception, because targets for social judgments – including ourselves – have affective relevance. Two other talks (Keysers, Ochsner) will show that interactions among regions involved in motor control, affect, and mental state attribution underlie our tendency to take on the emotions of others and empathize with them. Taken together, these talks suggest that social cognition and emotion share common mechanisms that interact to support social behavior in multiple contexts.

post technology that mimics eye contact perception

February 13th, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT,interesting research — Tina @ 3:18 am

The portable device, dubbed the eyebox2, can be attached to public area advertisements and uses a camera that monitors eye movements in real time to automatically detect when people are looking at it from up to 10 meters away and at a horizontal range of 2-3 meters.

By emitting infrared diodes and recognising the red-eye effect, the device mimics eye contact perception in humans, allowing it to accurately pinpoint what television screen, billboard or product shelf people are looking at.

This enables advertisers to track the number of people who engage eye contact with their ads said Professor Roel Vertegaal, the chief developer of the eyebox2 and director of the Human Media Laboratory at Queen’s University.

look into further.

post Nokia Only Planet conference – Espoo, Finland

February 11th, 2008

Great news – they sent Vilja from the Nokia Research Group in Tampere to chat with me – she started to tell me what there interests were and how I could be involved with them with some of my projects/reserch. Fantastic development for the mobile projects. I had put in application last year – Synapse/ARC. We ot the ozco funding but not the ARC funding. We needed more industry links. Working with Andrew Brown and Christian Jones. Christian contacted me a couple of weeks ago saying that he wants to resubmit.

Will fly back to Tampere in April to further meet with them. Sounds really interesting, but hard to talk about with NDA’s etc.

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