pected differences between Arabs and Americans in their space behavior and body orientations (see also Sommer, 1959; Little, 1968; Shuter, 1976; Baxter, 1970). In addition, studies have shown cultural differences in touching behavior (Watson and Graves, 1966; Jourard, 1966; Shuter, 1976).
The issue of universal nonverbal expressions versus culturally determined expressions has been probed in a series of studies on facial expressions. Defining the issue in terms of “relative importance,” Ekman developed an approach that allows for both universal and culturally specific sources for expressions of emotion (see, e.g., Ekman and O'Sullivan, 1988). According to this “theory,” eliciting events vary from culture to culture but the particular facial muscle movements triggered when a given emotion is elicited are universal. (Blends of emotions may be subject to more cultural variability than the primary emotions.) That is, although the underlying physiology for the primary emotions may be universal, the actual expression elicited is subject to cultural and situation-determined display rules. Display rules serve to control an expression or to modify or mask certain expressions that would be socially inappropriate or would reveal deception. Evidence relevant to this theory is presented in a series of experiments reported by Ekman and his colleagues.
One series of experiments explored the extent to which respondents from different cultures agreed on the facial configuration signifying contempt as opposed to anger or disgust (Ekman and Friesen, 1986; Ekman and Heider, 1988). They found that the expression is widely recognized as contempt (75 percent agreement across cultures) just as the “anger expression” was seen as signifying anger (74 percent agreement) and the “disgust picture” showed disgust (73 percent agreement). Less clear, however, is the explanation for such universality: agreement could be the result of either species-specific learning or biological evolution. If the result of learning, the expressions would be characteristic only of humans; if the result of evolution, they should also be observed in other species, such as primates. A resolution of this issue depends on demonstrations of cross-species similarities in the underlying physiology. Such a demonstration has not yet been presented.
In a particularly ambitious cross-cultural study (Ekman et al., 1987), respondents from ten cultures were asked to identify facial expressions as indicators of one or more of six emotions—happiness, surprise, sadness, fear, disgust, anger. Three pictures were selected for each of the six emotions. High levels of agreement were found for judgments of the strongest emotion, the second strongest emotion, and the relative strength of two different expressions of the same emotion in each set of pictures. The majority of the observers in every culture judge the emotions as