General Question

luigirovatti's avatar

An interesting question for me: How do you read the emotions of an Asian face (of Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, etc.) or how do you know what is the person thinking?

Asked by luigirovatti (1094points) December 19th, 2018

And don’t tell me through the cartoons, because to me it’s most the eyes that are difficult to sort out.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

37 Answers

KNOWITALL's avatar

For me, Asian faces are just as easy to read (usually) as any other. I’ve had many Japanese and Vietnamese, and Thai friends and we’ve had very few issues with communication.

It’s an entirely different culture, so unless you know them and the culture well, I’m sure they can appear inscrutable at times. Especially for those of us who may be a tad extroverted lol.

raum's avatar

Wow. This is an amazingly racist question.

luigirovatti's avatar

I’m not trying to be racist, just that unless you ask that person what (s)he’s thinking, it’s not always easy to know what to say to that person by only means of facial cues.

raum's avatar

If you had asked:
Why do I have a difficult time distinguishing facial expressions from people who are of a different race than myself?

That would be fine.

In which case, my answer would be that you are experiencing the cross-race effect.

However, your question implies that your inability to read someone’s facial expression is due to some deficit in the way their eyes are shaped.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Here’s a better explanation:
It is hard to figure out what the Chinese are thinking because their facial expression is always the same.

The stereotype of the “inscrutable” Chinese has been around for centuries and does indeed come from the fact that when conversing with strangers the Chinese try to retain an emotionless expression. For them this is a sign that they are taking things seriously and adhering to the Confucian dictate of balance in all things. Also, by keeping their body language “neutral” when they speak, it forces the other person to only deal with the spoken word without other inferences. This can be very disconcerting for people who come from “high context” cultures, where reading between the lines is essential to communication.

http://howculturematters.blogspot.com/2008/08/chinese-stereotypes.html

raum's avatar

The idea of the “inscrutable Chinese” is a racist trope.

Racism has also been around for centuries. That’s not a valid argument.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@raum This is General, you aren’t supposed to comment unless you’re answering the question, and you aren’t the fluther police, so calm down.
Definition of trope
1a : a word or expression used in a figurative sense : FIGURE OF SPEECH
b : a common or overused theme or device : CLICHÉ
the usual horror movie tropes

canidmajor's avatar

How we react to things tends to be culturally based, we learn facial expressions from our families and peers. Asians from multi-generational American (or whatever country/culture you are in) families will have expressions similar to your own.

raum's avatar

I didn’t answer the original question as written, because I don’t agree with the premise.

However, I did answer the general gist of the question. The OP is experiencing the cross-race effect

General is not a free for all for posting racist shit. Intentional or not.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@raum It’s NOT racist, he did not say anything demeaning or anything to imply any kind of superiority at all. Geesh.

raum's avatar

There’s more to racism than explicitly saying that your race is better than another race.

Saying that all Asians are good at math or all black people are great athletes is also racist.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@raum No one is saying that. I’m 45 years old, I know what racism is.

raum's avatar

I really don’t think that you do.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@raum People like you find racism in everything, you’ve posted here about that several times. @luigirovatti already said that wasn’t the intent of the thread, so it’s your choice to believe it or not.

luigirovatti's avatar

Anyway, it’s logical that a person can have an unreadable face, trying to conceal his/her emotions, is it not?

luigirovatti's avatar

A person with more experience than others who don’t know body language, then, can more easily distinguish facial cues in people of their nation, than those of people of another nation. People with even more experience don’t “experience” said difficulty between interracial facial cues. Is that so?

janbb's avatar

Gee – I have Asian friends and an Asian DIL and I never have problems reading their expressions. I have small eyes – do you think people have trouble reading mine?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@luigirovatti Correct. I have personally known people from many countries around the world and it’s similar to speech patterns, the more you’re around it, the more it makes sense, regardless of which country or culture.

luigirovatti's avatar

@janbb: I don’t think it’s a matter of who has what. It’s a question of who frequents who where. Not sure if you follow.

Caravanfan's avatar

1) The question is a racist question.
2) It is likely the original poster is ignorant and did not realize the question is offensive as written.

Let me rephrase the question a different way: “Do Jews smell better with their big noses?”
Now do you see why the OP is racist?

luigirovatti's avatar

@Caravanfan: I didn’t ask about who smells better, I asked about the ability of a person of recognizing emotions in a person’s face, and (s)he can distinguish it worse in the eyes. Clear so far?

flutherother's avatar

Chinese people are no more inscrutable than anyone else. I have wandered through a few Chinese towns and cities and have done a bit of people watching. You will find the same range of facial expressions in the streets of Chongqing as you will find in the streets of New York

mazingerz88's avatar

I read their faces the same way I read the faces of all the other non-Asian people I’ve met. Eye and lip movement mainly. Followed by head movement.

luigirovatti's avatar

Maybe it’s the cross race effect for me.

Caravanfan's avatar

@luigirovatti You’re missing the point. The question, as phrased, is racist. You can choose to believe that or not, but it just is. When I was a kid, I asked a Japanese friend of mine how he could see out of his slanted eyes. To this day, nearly 50 years later, he still remembers it and gives me crap about it. I wasn’t intending to be racist, but I was.

To be clear, I am not callling you a racist, but I am saying that the question, as written, is.

flutherother's avatar

It’s maybe a lack of familiarity. I know that when I have been in China for a while I get used to Chinese faces and many of them no longer even look Chinese to me.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@luigirovatti It is called lack of sensitivity or
.
.
.
.
.
.
not giving a shit about other people’s feelings.

Brian1946's avatar

I’d say that the inscrutable expressions in this photo are not those of the Vietnamese children screaming and crying in terror in the foreground, but instead are those of the soldiers casually strolling along behind them.

Caravanfan's avatar

@Tropical_Willie You might be happy to hear that the girl in the photo turned out okay. She has scars from the napalm, but is now a Canadian citizen and is undergoing treatment.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/oct/26/vietnam-wars-napalm-girl-kim-phuc-has-laser-treatment-to-heal-wounds

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phan_Thi_Kim_Phuc

Caravanfan's avatar

And here is a picture of her smiling and happy, although @luigirovatti won’t be able to tell because she’s Asian.

https://d.ibtimes.co.uk/en/full/280185/phan-thi-kim-phuc.jpg

Caravanfan's avatar

Actually, I meant to tag @Brian1946 two posts above. My apologies.

Brian1946's avatar

@Caravanfan

No problem.

Thanks for the positive update.

I’m very happy to see that she’s doing well and is a Canadian citiizen, because that probably means she doesn’t have to rely on a GoFundMe account to realize a happy and healthy outcome.

luigirovatti's avatar

I already apologized, and if I didn’t, I do it now. Believe it or not, there are cases when the face of people, European, Asian, Americans, or whatever, are inscrutable because they may be experts at hiding their emotions. More details in my posts above. I’ve never been to Asia, I’ve never traveled outside America and Europe. I mentioned specifically Asians because I’ve watched many Chinese and Japanese cartoons and I’ve also seen many images of people whose face I can’t recognize. And, I tend to notice, the face of very famous people are not photographed in candid shots. They are more in pose. But I realize I’ll never convince you with words, so I’ll make a real example here.

Compare this photo:

https://pp.userapi.com/w3KYe_ANfvvfgm0mNppu7eYwOtuYRoXcZ3MM6Q/T9v1wYbS570.jpg?ava=1

With this one:

https://a1-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/147/aaa1e6e78de346b39023028e73e49aed/300x300.jpg

In the last one, can you tell me what the person is thinking or feeling?

LostInParadise's avatar

What if it is not a matter of race, but of culture? Suppose that Chinese children are discouraged from displaying emotion. It is possible. I did a Web search and found this link to a related question about the Japanese.

janbb's avatar

@luigirovatti I’m still not really getting your point. I think many people walk around with an expressionless face a good part of the time. I think the idea of the “Inscrutable Asian” is an old stereotype that maybe needs to be put to bed.

luigirovatti's avatar

@janbb: I just mentioned this stereotype because it’s more frequent to me when I’m not reading faces correctly than of the other nationalities. But, as you can guess above, it’s because I’ve never traveled to Asia.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther