Recognising sensual sounds is culture specific

Washington, Mar 19 : When it comes to recognising positive emotions like sensual pleasure, relief and achievement, there exists a strong cultural divide, according to researchers at University College London''s psychology department.

The scientists studied a range of non-verbal emotional vocalizations, such as screams and laughs, in two very different cultural groups.

They compared the responses of Westerners to those of the remote and culturally isolated semi-nomadic Himba people of Namibia.

And it was found that both groups recognised vocalizations expressing the six basic emotions - anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise.

This indicated that they, like facial expressions, are universally evolved functions.

However, when an additional set of positive emotions was introduced - achievement, sensual pleasure and relief - they were only reliably recognized by the Western subjects.

These newly discovered cultural variations suggested that the vocalization of some positive emotions might be learned socially, rather than representing products of evolution.

Describing the experiment as ''fascinating'' in her review, F1000 Faculty Member Argye Hills, of Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, said that the study "highlights the importance of considering a range of positive emotions in cross-cultural research."

The study has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. (ANI)