Emotion Detection in the Middle Eastern Classroom: Implications for Instruction


The detection of emotions in people’s faces is key to human communication. As such, it is a relevant aspect of instruction in classrooms across the globe where cultural differences exist. Is judging people’s emotions from facial expressions shaped by cultural dichotomies, such as individualism and collectivism? Findings of research using cross-country samples had shown that individuals from collectivistic societies judge the facial expression of a focal person by considering the expressions of surrounding people. Conversely, individuals from individualistic societies discard the context in which an emotion is expressed. The participants of our study were college students from a Middle Eastern society whose traditional collectivism is challenged by the individualistic themes of its economy. Their varied levels of endorsement of individualism and collectivism underscored their mixed cultural orientation. After completing a cultural orientation survey, students viewed drawings depicting a central person who expressed anger, happiness, or sadness, surrounded by other people who either showed a different emotion or remained neutral. They rated the intensity of the emotion of the main character. In this study, only happiness estimates were sensitive to the emotional expressions in the background. Furthermore, estimates of happiness increased with participants’ collectivism irrespective of whether the context was neutral or mismatched. These findings indicate that a component of a person’s collectivistic orientation is the recognition of a socially desirable emotion, such as happiness, which can enhance the cohesiveness of the collective to which one belongs. The implications of these findings for classroom management in the Middle East are discussed.

Author Information
Maura Pilotti, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, Saudi Arabia
Maria Alabdulrahman, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, Saudi Arabia
Lara Lara Alotaibi, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, Saudi Arabia
Arifi Waked, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, Saudi Arabia
Khadija El Alaoui, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, Saudi Arabia

Paper Information
Conference: IICE2024
Stream: Mind

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon