skip to main content

Title: Emotion depends on context, culture, and their interaction: Evidence from effective connectivity.
Situated models of emotion hypothesize that emotions are optimized for the context at hand, but most neuroimaging approaches ignore context. For the first time, we applied Granger causality (GC) analysis to determine how an emotion is affected by a person’s cultural background and situation. Electroencephalographic recordings were obtained from mainland Chinese (CHN) and US participants as they viewed and rated fearful and neutral images displaying either social or non-social contexts. Independent component analysis and GC analysis were applied to determine the epoch of peak effect for each condition and to identify sources and sinks among brain regions of interest. We found that source–sink couplings differed across culture, situation and culture × situation. Mainland CHN participants alone showed preference for an early-onset source–sink pairing with the supramarginal gyrus as a causal source, suggesting that, relative to US participants, CHN participants more strongly prioritized a scene’s social aspects in their response to fearful scenes. Our findings suggest that the neural representation of fear indeed varies according to both culture and situation and their interaction in ways that are consistent with norms instilled by cultural background.
Authors:
; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1551688
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10288410
Journal Name:
Social cognitive and affective neuroscience
ISSN:
1749-5024
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Past research has recognized culture and gender variation in the experience of emotion, yet this has not been examined on a level of effective connectivity. To determine culture and gender differences in effec-tive connectivity during emotional experiences, we applied dynamic causal modeling (DCM) to electro-encephalography (EEG) measures of brain activity obtained from Chinese and American participants while they watched emotion-evoking images. Relative to US participants, Chinese participants favored a model bearing a more integrated dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) during fear v. neutral experiences. Meanwhile, relative to males, females favored a model bearing a less integrated dlPFC during fear v. neutral experiences. A culture-gender interaction for winning models was also observed; only US partici-pants showed an effect of gender, with US females favoring a model bearing a less integrated dlPFC compared to the other groups. These findings suggest that emotion and its neural correlates depend in part on the cultural background and gender of an individual. To our knowledge, this is also the first study to apply both DCM and EEG measures in examining culture-gender interaction and emotion.
  2. Introduction and Theoretical Frameworks Our study draws upon several theoretical foundations to investigate and explain the educational experiences of Black students majoring in ME, CpE, and EE: intersectionality, critical race theory, and community cultural wealth theory. Intersectionality explains how gender operates together with race, not independently, to produce multiple, overlapping forms of discrimination and social inequality (Crenshaw, 1989; Collins, 2013). Critical race theory recognizes the unique experiences of marginalized groups and strives to identify the micro- and macro-institutional sources of discrimination and prejudice (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001). Community cultural wealth integrates an asset-based perspective to our analysis of engineering education to assist in the identification of factors that contribute to the success of engineering students (Yosso, 2005). These three theoretical frameworks are buttressed by our use of Racial Identity Theory, which expands understanding about the significance and meaning associated with students’ sense of group membership. Sellers and colleagues (1997) introduced the Multidimensional Model of Racial Identity (MMRI), in which they indicated that racial identity refers to the “significance and meaning that African Americans place on race in defining themselves” (p. 19). The development of this model was based on the reality that individuals vary greatly in the extent to whichmore »they attach meaning to being a member of the Black racial group. Sellers et al. (1997) posited that there are four components of racial identity: 1. Racial salience: “the extent to which one’s race is a relevant part of one’s self-concept at a particular moment or in a particular situation” (p. 24). 2. Racial centrality: “the extent to which a person normatively defines himself or herself with regard to race” (p. 25). 3. Racial regard: “a person’s affective or evaluative judgment of his or her race in terms of positive-negative valence” (p. 26). This element consists of public regard and private regard. 4. Racial ideology: “composed of the individual’s beliefs, opinions and attitudes with respect to the way he or she feels that the members of the race should act” (p. 27). The resulting 56-item inventory, the Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity (MIBI), provides a robust measure of Black identity that can be used across multiple contexts. Research Questions Our 3-year, mixed-method study of Black students in computer (CpE), electrical (EE) and mechanical engineering (ME) aims to identify institutional policies and practices that contribute to the retention and attrition of Black students in electrical, computer, and mechanical engineering. Our four study institutions include historically Black institutions as well as predominantly white institutions, all of which are in the top 15 nationally in the number of Black engineering graduates. We are using a transformative mixed-methods design to answer the following overarching research questions: 1. Why do Black men and women choose and persist in, or leave, EE, CpE, and ME? 2. What are the academic trajectories of Black men and women in EE, CpE, and ME? 3. In what way do these pathways vary by gender or institution? 4. What institutional policies and practices promote greater retention of Black engineering students? Methods This study of Black students in CpE, EE, and ME reports initial results from in-depth interviews at one HBCU and one PWI. We asked students about a variety of topics, including their sense of belonging on campus and in the major, experiences with discrimination, the impact of race on their experiences, and experiences with microaggressions. For this paper, we draw on two methodological approaches that allowed us to move beyond a traditional, linear approach to in-depth interviews, allowing for more diverse experiences and narratives to emerge. First, we used an identity circle to gain a better understanding of the relative importance to the participants of racial identity, as compared to other identities. The identity circle is a series of three concentric circles, surrounding an “inner core” representing one’s “core self.” Participants were asked to place various identities from a provided list that included demographic, family-related, and school-related identities on the identity circle to reflect the relative importance of the different identities to participants’ current engineering education experiences. Second, participants were asked to complete an 8-item survey which measured the “centrality” of racial identity as defined by Sellers et al. (1997). Following Enders’ (2018) reflection on the MMRI and Nigrescence Theory, we chose to use the measure of racial centrality as it is generally more stable across situations and best “describes the place race holds in the hierarchy of identities an individual possesses and answers the question ‘How important is race to me in my life?’” (p. 518). Participants completed the MIBI items at the end of the interview to allow us to learn more about the participants’ identification with their racial group, to avoid biasing their responses to the Identity Circle, and to avoid potentially creating a stereotype threat at the beginning of the interview. This paper focuses on the results of the MIBI survey and the identity circles to investigate whether these measures were correlated. Recognizing that Blackness (race) is not monolithic, we were interested in knowing the extent to which the participants considered their Black identity as central to their engineering education experiences. Combined with discussion about the identity circles, this approach allowed us to learn more about how other elements of identity may shape the participants’ educational experiences and outcomes and revealed possible differences in how participants may enact various points of their identity. Findings For this paper, we focus on the results for five HBCU students and 27 PWI students who completed the MIBI and identity circle. The overall MIBI average for HBCU students was 43 (out of a possible 56) and the overall MIBI scores ranged from 36-51; the overall MIBI average for the PWI students was 40; the overall MIBI scores for the PWI students ranged from 24-51. Twenty-one students placed race in the inner circle, indicating that race was central to their identity. Five placed race on the second, middle circle; three placed race on the third, outer circle. Three students did not place race on their identity circle. For our cross-case qualitative analysis, we will choose cases across the two institutions that represent low, medium and high MIBI scores and different ranges of centrality of race to identity, as expressed in the identity circles. Our final analysis will include descriptive quotes from these in-depth interviews to further elucidate the significance of race to the participants’ identities and engineering education experiences. The results will provide context for our larger study of a total of 60 Black students in engineering at our four study institutions. Theoretically, our study represents a new application of Racial Identity Theory and will provide a unique opportunity to apply the theories of intersectionality, critical race theory, and community cultural wealth theory. Methodologically, our findings provide insights into the utility of combining our two qualitative research tools, the MIBI centrality scale and the identity circle, to better understand the influence of race on the education experiences of Black students in engineering.« less
  3. The overall goal of our research is to develop a system of intelligent multimodal affective pedagogical agents that are effective for different types of learners (Adamo et al., 2021). While most of the research on pedagogical agents tends to focus on the cognitive aspects of online learning and instruction, this project explores the less-studied role of affective (or emotional) factors. We aim to design believable animated agents that can convey realistic, natural emotions through speech, facial expressions, and body gestures and that can react to the students’ detected emotional states with emotional intelligence. Within the context of this goal, the specific objective of the work reported in the paper was to examine the extent to which the agents’ facial micro-expressions affect students’ perception of the agents’ emotions and their naturalness. Micro-expressions are very brief facial expressions that occur when a person either deliberately or unconsciously conceals an emotion being felt (Ekman &Friesen, 1969). Our assumption is that if the animated agents display facial micro expressions in addition to macro expressions, they will convey higher expressive richness and naturalness to the viewer, as “the agents can possess two emotional streams, one based on interaction with the viewer and the other basedmore »on their own internal state, or situation” (Queiroz et al. 2014, p.2).The work reported in the paper involved two studies with human subjects. The objectives of the first study were to examine whether people can recognize micro-expressions (in isolation) in animated agents, and whether there are differences in recognition based on the agent’s visual style (e.g., stylized versus realistic). The objectives of the second study were to investigate whether people can recognize the animated agents’ micro-expressions when integrated with macro-expressions, the extent to which the presence of micro + macro-expressions affect the perceived expressivity and naturalness of the animated agents, the extent to which exaggerating the micro expressions, e.g. increasing the amplitude of the animated facial displacements affects emotion recognition and perceived agent naturalness and emotional expressivity, and whether there are differences based on the agent’s design characteristics. In the first study, 15 participants watched eight micro-expression animations representing four different emotions (happy, sad, fear, surprised). Four animations featured a stylized agent and four a realistic agent. For each animation, subjects were asked to identify the agent’s emotion conveyed by the micro-expression. In the second study, 234 participants watched three sets of eight animation clips (24 clips in total, 12 clips per agent). Four animations for each agent featured the character performing macro-expressions only, four animations for each agent featured the character performing macro- + micro-expressions without exaggeration, and four animations for each agent featured the agent performing macro + micro-expressions with exaggeration. Participants were asked to recognize the true emotion of the agent and rate the emotional expressivity ad naturalness of the agent in each clip using a 5-point Likert scale. We have collected all the data and completed the statistical analysis. Findings and discussion, implications for research and practice, and suggestions for future work will be reported in the full paper. ReferencesAdamo N., Benes, B., Mayer, R., Lei, X., Meyer, Z., &Lawson, A. (2021). Multimodal Affective Pedagogical Agents for Different Types of Learners. In: Russo D., Ahram T., Karwowski W., Di Bucchianico G., Taiar R. (eds) Intelligent Human Systems Integration 2021. IHSI 2021. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, 1322. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-68017-6_33Ekman, P., &Friesen, W. V. (1969, February). Nonverbal leakage and clues to deception. Psychiatry, 32(1), 88–106. https://doi.org/10.1080/00332747.1969.11023575 Queiroz, R. B., Musse, S. R., &Badler, N. I. (2014). Investigating Macroexpressions and Microexpressions in Computer Graphics Animated Faces. Presence, 23(2), 191-208. http://dx.doi.org/10.1162/

    « less
  4. Background: Internships for college students can enhance their grades, skills, and employment prospects, but finding and completing an internship sometimes requires considerable resources. Consequently, before postsecondary institutions consider mandating this high-impact practice, more evidence is needed regarding the various obstacles students face as they seek an internship. Focus of Study: The purpose of this study was to document the prevalence and nature of obstacles to securing a college internship and how these factors interact in the lives of particular students. Field theory is used to highlight the ways that structural inequalities and forms of capital serve to facilitate or constrain access to an internship experience. Population: The participants in this study included students attending five postsecondary institutions—three comprehensive universities, one historically Black college and university (HBCU), and one technical college in the U.S. states of Maryland, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. Research Design: This concurrent mixed-methods study included the collection of survey (n = 1,549) and focus group and interview (n = 100) data from students who self-selected into the study. Given that this is a descriptive study, the aim was to document student experiences with obstacles to internships using varied sources of data. Data Collection and Analysis: Data were collectedmore »via an online survey (with a 26% response rate) and in-person focus groups or interviews at each campus. Data were analyzed using inductive thematic analysis, social network analysis, and logistic regression techniques and interpreted in ways that highlight the situated and critical role of capital and structure in shaping opportunity and behavior. Findings: Among the 1,060 (69%) survey respondents who reported not having had an internship, 638 indicated that they had in fact wanted to pursue an internship but could not because of the need to work, a heavy course load, insufficient positions, and inadequate pay. The role of financial, social, and cultural capital also impacted students differentially depending on their majors, socioeconomic status, race, and geographic location, highlighting how context and enduring systemic forces—and not solely the possession of capital(s)—intersect to shape students’ abilities to pursue an internship. Conclusion: Internships are not universally accessible to all college students and instead favor students who have access to financial, social, and cultural capital while also being positioned in particular majors, geographic locations, and institutions. Before actively promoting internships for their students, colleges and universities should secure funding to support student pay and relocation costs, identify alternative forms of experiential learning for working students, and engage employers in creating more in-person and online positions for students across the disciplines.« less
  5. Background Supporting mental health and wellness is of increasing interest due to a growing recognition of the prevalence and burden of mental health issues. Mood is a central aspect of mental health, and several technologies, especially mobile apps, have helped people track and understand it. However, despite formative work on and dissemination of mood-tracking apps, it is not well understood how mood-tracking apps used in real-world contexts might benefit people and what people hope to gain from them. Objective To address this gap, the purpose of this study was to understand motivations for and experiences in using mood-tracking apps from people who used them in real-world contexts. Methods We interviewed 22 participants who had used mood-tracking apps using a semistructured interview and card sorting task. The interview focused on their experiences using a mood-tracking app. We then conducted a card sorting task using screenshots of various data entry and data review features from mood-tracking apps. We used thematic analysis to identify themes around why people use mood-tracking apps, what they found useful about them, and where people felt these apps fell short. Results Users of mood-tracking apps were primarily motivated by negative life events or shifts in their own mentalmore »health that prompted them to engage in tracking and improve their situation. In general, participants felt that using a mood-tracking app facilitated self-awareness and helped them to look back on a previous emotion or mood experience to understand what was happening. Interestingly, some users reported less inclination to document their negative mood states and preferred to document their positive moods. There was a range of preferences for personalization and simplicity of tracking. Overall, users also liked features in which their previous tracked emotions and moods were visualized in figures or calendar form to understand trends. One gap in available mood-tracking apps was the lack of app-facilitated recommendations or suggestions for how to interpret their own data or improve their mood. Conclusions Although people find various features of mood-tracking apps helpful, the way people use mood-tracking apps, such as avoiding entering negative moods, tracking infrequently, or wanting support to understand or change their moods, demonstrate opportunities for improvement. Understanding why and how people are using current technologies can provide insights to guide future designs and implementations.« less