The purpose of this study was to see if emotions were mimicked and to what extent they were. In order to conduct this study, my cousin and myself went to our local mall — I live off campus, and it’s a very long commute. The plan was to collect six data points, Smiling at a same gender stranger, Neutral expression to a same gender stranger, Frowning at a same gender stranger, Smiling at a different gender stranger, Neutral expression to a different gender stranger, Frowning at a different gender stranger.
I had to do the facial expressions, while my cousin — oblivious to what expression I was going to attempt — recorded the extent of the reciprocation of the expression. She followed closely behind, enough to notice what the expression was, but not close enough for people to see that a study was being conducted. This study is designed to minimize bias because the partner — or the recorder — is unaware of the expression the conductor is doing. If the recorder knew of the expression beforehand they are more likely to record the data they think should be the outcome.
For example, if I the conductor, told my recorder that I was going to frown at the male that was walking up to me, my recorder would expect a frown, and therefore would be more likely to record such data. She might also feel that because he is a man and he is being frowned at he might also ignore the expression because men are generally though to be ignorant. When we started executing the research, I predicted to get most of the emotions reciprocated back of similar extent. I didn’t however, expect to encounter man challenges; the most common being, getting people to notice myself as they were busy with their phones or in conversation, finding people that actually cared to give an expression, or making sure my expression was adequate.
It was extremely difficult to give the “perfect” expression, most people found it strange that a stranger, was giving them a full blown smile with teeth, or a frown that was unexplained. After several attempts at each data point, there was general pattern that occurred. Most people of the same gender as I — I identify as a woman — mimicked the smile, but often the frowns weren’t mimicked and were either given a neutral expression or they just glanced away. For the opposite gender however, the results were extremely variable for myself. I found that most men didn’t smile back, and if they did it would be sort of creepy.
Frowns were often met with frowns, and neutral expressions were also reciprocated. Upon my individual data collection, I feel that generally women are more likely to reciprocate expressions compared to men. Therefore I hypothesize, women would be more likely to smile, frown, and give a neutral expression, when they are exposed to these emotions by the same gender. For men, I hypothesize for less reciprocation of expressions to the other gender. Once the collective results were introduced, it was found that if a woman was frowned at by either the same or opposite gender they mimicked the frown — p =1.00. On the other hand, if a man was frowned at by the same gender he was less likely to frown when compared to being frowned where he was frowned at by the same gender, in which he would be more likely to frown — p = 0.
62. The results for smiling however were really interesting, it was found that women were a little more likely to smile at the same gender, than the opposite — p = 0.19. For men however, they were more likely to smile at the opposite gender, than the same — p = 0.
05. Despite the fact, most of the results are in favour of my hypothesis, however I was unable to predict for women to have small difference in smiling at the opposite gender. For my second hypothesis, the results were less in favour as men are more likely to smile or frown at the opposite gender in comparison to their own. The results weren’t very surprising, as a society we generally expect women to smile more, and men to maintain neutral expressions. Women are known to be more social and extroverted, while men are the opposite. It’s difficult to define the implications of this research, because the level of emotion that men and women show is variable. Women tend to have exaggerative expressions, in comparison to men (McDuff, 2017). For example, a small smile from a man could potentially be the equivalent of a big smile of woman’s.
The way we are socialized has huge effect on the behavioural implications. But for the most part, the results are supportive of what we believe as a society, with women having more expressions than men. The greatest complications for this study would be the setting. Originally this study was supposed to be run on campus, where it would eliminate difference in relative socio-economic status as most university students are generally of the similar statuses. As my data collection was conducted in a mall, there were people of variant socio-economic status, therefore creating a limitation.
As I said earlier the socialization of an individual has great effect on their expressiveness of emotions (Macionis, 2017). Therefore along with socio-economic status, one’s education or beliefs also have effect on their expressiveness. Another variation of this study could be studying people with similar socialization, may give more accurate and precise results.