Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Paul Nestor

Second Advisor

Marc Pomplun

Third Advisor

Alice Carter


The current study investigated the cultural influences on emotion recognition through the study of The Reading in the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET) (Baron-Cohen, Jolliffe, Mortimore, & Robertson, 1997). The study’s sample included 131 college students who self-identified as ethnically White (n = 75) or Asian (n = 56). Participants completed the RMET and several other emotion perception tasks including the Asian RMET (Adam et al., 2009), a basic emotions recognition task, and a full-face complex emotion task, which was designed specifically for this study. Preferential looking patterns were obtained via eye tracking during the completion of these tasks. Participants additionally completed measures designed to assess cultural orientation (Individualism and Collectivism Scale; Triandis & Gelfland, 1998) and cultural display rules (Display Rules Inventory; Matsumoto et al., 1998). Results revealed an intracultural advantage for the RMET, such that White participants outperformed our Asian sample. In contrast, no ethnic group differences were found for the Asian RMET. Difference in RMET performance could not be attributed to preferential looking patterns, or differences in emotion recognition for negative versus positive emotions and full-face versus eye stimuli. Cultural orientation and cultural display rules were in part found to significantly predict RMET and Asian RMET performance. This current study additionally examined the relationship between RMET tasks and a multimodal measure of social cognition, The Advanced Clinical Solutions – Social Perception Subtests (ACS-SP; Pearson, 2009). Analyses revealed a similar intracultural advantage for our White participants. Additionally, small to moderate correlations were found between subtests of the ACS-SP and RMET tasks. Findings of the current study both generally contribute to a better understanding of the ways in which emotion recognition may be shaped by culture and provide considerations for the ways in which the RMET may be revised to be more cultural sensitive.


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