Additional aspects of the Sauter et. al (2010) experiment
Chapter 3 endnote 16, from Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context is:
In late 2014, Sauter and her colleagues inadvertently solved the mystery. They revealed that their experiment included an extra step not reported in their original publication: a step that’s rich in conceptual knowledge. After the Himba participants heard an emotion story but before they listened to any sound pairs, they were asked to describe how the target person in the story was feeling.
Sauter et. al have called this extra step a “manipulation check” to make sure that subjects understood the experimental task. My lab did not include this step because it was not reported in Sauter and her colleagues’ original paper. We did have other manipulation checks in place to ensure that our subjects understood how to do the task and what was being asked of them.
Chapter 3 endnote 17, from Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context is:
There was one other difference between our experimental method and the one used by Sauter and her colleagues. Once a Himba participant had explained the emotion concept satisfactorily — let’s say it was sadness — Sauter’s team played a pair of sounds, such as a cry and a laugh, and the subject chose the better match for sadness.
We recently conducted a study with the Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania that shows the potency of the basic emotion method for producing evidence of universal emotions. In short, we reran Sauter's study with six other emotion concepts that the Hadza definitely didn't know, using vocalizations that we made up ourselves. As we expected, the results were a false positive — our obscure emotion concepts and their fabricated vocalizations appeared to be universal, when of course they were not.
To prepare this study, we chose six emotion concepts from a variety of cultures across the globe that have been deemed untranslatable into the English language. We verified that each emotion concept did not exist in Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania. Then we wrote a brief story to depict each concept, invented their vocalizations, and had U.S. test subjects choose the vocal cues that best depicted each concept. We then plopped the stories and vocalizations into the basic emotion method with Sauter's "manipulation check" and blocked trial procedure. Our Hadza test subjects chose the "correct" vocalization for five of the six emotion concepts. That is, five of our untranslatable emotion concepts looked universal when tested using this souped-up version of the basic emotion method.