Facial expressions versus words: Unlocking complex emotional responses of residents toward tourists

Shiqin Zhang, Nan Chen, Cathy H.C. Hsu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Tourism as an emotional sphere, researchers' efforts on emotions lag behind the fruitful achievements of psychology, in both methods and theories. Tourism studies on emotion mostly rely on self-reports only, thus limiting the understanding to explicitly expressed emotions. This study aims to compare residents' emotional responses toward tourists expressed implicitly (through facial expressions) and explicitly (through self-reports), and interpret identified discrepancies by exploring the psychological mechanism behind the two expression channels. Using self-developed video vignettes as triggers, Hong Kong residents’ facial expressions during watching and self-reported emotions after watching the videos were recorded. Through a comprehensive comparison, desires-derived and stereotypes-elicited emotional responses of residents toward tourists were distinguished. Facial expressions conveyed more desires-derived emotions like happiness, sadness, and anger, whereas self-reports emphasized stereotypes-elicited emotions, particularly disgust. A dual-process model of emotion formation was proposed to interpret the emotional expressive discrepancies, thereby enhancing the theorization of tourism studies on emotion.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104226
JournalTourism Management
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Desires
  • Emotion
  • FaceReader
  • Facial expressions
  • Instinctive process
  • Reflective process
  • Stereotypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Transportation
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Strategy and Management

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