How does AI smile? In images generated by AI, the subjects have eery wide-mouthed, straight-teethed American-style selfie smiles. How does a USA-centric understanding of psychology affect our view of humanity? Lisa Feldman Barrett writes:
Most scientific research on emotion is conducted in English, using American concepts and American emotion words (and their translations). According to noted linguist Anna Wierzbicka, English has been a conceptual prison for the science of emotion. “English terms of emotion constitute a folk taxonomy, not an objective, culture-free analytic framework, so obviously we cannot assume that English words such as disgust, fear, or shame are clues to universal human concepts, or to basic psychological realities.”
In this Medium essay, Designer Jenka Gurfinkel breaks down the culturally-specific idea of the smile. She says that we naturally associate the American smile with lying. The prominence of the wide-mouthed smile in American culture is very particular. But, by imposing the American smile onto other cultures, we erase different cultural experiences, and the underlying understandings of humanity.