Psy321-Lecture 5- February 14, 2014
Culture & Emotion
• Simone Walker, PhD
• February14, 2014
• What are emotions?
• Universality of emotions
• Basic emotions
• Culture & regulation of basic emotions
• Culture & emotional experience
• Culture & values, concepts, beliefs, attitudes about emotion
- Consider the Ilongot of the Northern Philippines. They have an emotion called
the “liget” which closest translates to anger, passion, energy. Liget is the key
aspect of their life.
What Are Emotions?
• Transient, neurophysiological reactions to events that have consequences for our
welfare, and require an immediate behavioural response. So they are more than
just feelings. Mood tends to be longer lasting than emotion.
• Physiological reactions. For example, racing heart or sweaty palm.
• Expressive behaviours. For example, facial expressions.
• Behavioural intentions
• Cognitive changes.
We also have several theories of emotion….there are two very influential theories…in
fact most other theories have arisen from their theories:
• Emotions are bodily response to stimuli in the environment
• Prepares us for action
• The bodily responses is the fear
• Each emotion associated with different physiological sensation
• Ex. Embarrassment and blood rushing to the face.
• Ex. Fear and pounding of the heart. Fear IS the pounding of
• Interpretation of bodily responses
• He believed that autonomic system is just too slow to be producing
complex emotions. 2
• He believed they do involve bodily sensations but also involved person’s
interpretation of the bodily responses.
• Ex. Stanley Schacter & Jerome Singer
• Interpretation of physiological arousal
• Ex. Fear versus Love. We use different cues in the situation to help
us interpret our bodily sensations. You might have the same
pounding heart even when you are with a very attractive partner
rather than just being in a stressful situation. So same bodily
sensations in fear and in love but different interpretations.
• Experiment procedure: They told subjects they were testing the effects of
a vitamin supplement on vision. Some subjects received an injection of
epinephrine, a drug that stimulates the sympathetic nervous system.
if you covertly induce a physiological change in a subject, will theys
cognitively assign an emotional state to their bodies' heightened arousal
when they have no apparent causal reason for their bodily changes?
However, if the person does have a causal reason (i.e., they know they
are receiving a drug) then they can rationalize the experience and won't
have an emotional reaction. In other words, does a person react
emotionally only when he experiences physiological changes?
- Placebo: given a placebo and were told that this wont have any effect on your
- Epinephrine-informed: given epinephrine and told that this will increase arousal
- Epinephrine-uninformed: epinephrine given but not told what it was
- Epinephrine-misinformed: epinephrine given but was misinformed that it would
make them feel numb, itchy, and give them a headache.
- After the epinephrine injections, they manipulated the emotional "fuel" of the
subjects by putting them in a room with a confederate that 1. behaved
euphorically (shooting paper wads into trash can, making paper airplanes) and 2.
behaved angrily (becomes increasingly angry over filling out an insulting
- They were asked what emotion they were feeling? And how strong the emotion
was? Observers were also watching the participants and coding their behavior.
PLACEBO (true: no effect Relatively little euphoria (no Relatively little anger (no
on arousal) arousal) arousal)
EPINEPHRINE- Relatively little euphoria Relatively little anger
INFORMED (true: (arousal attributed to (arousal attributed to
increase arousal) injection) injection)
EPINEPHRINE- Much euphoria (arousal Much anger (arousal
UNINFORMED (false: no attributed to situation) attributed to situation)
effect on arousal)
EPINEPHRINE- Most euphoria (arousal X- didn’t run this condition
MISINFORMED (false: attributed to situation)
- Physiologically, the epinephrine had the desired effect of raising heart rate and subject 3
ratings of tremors and palpitations vs the placebo. Also, the misinformed people didn't
experience any sympathetic symptoms of headaches or itchiness (compared to other
- In the euphoria condition, it was clear that "subjects were more susceptible to the
stooge's mood and consequently more euphoric when they had no explanation of their
own bodily states than when they did." The ranking was (low euphoria to high):
Based on behavior observations they found the same results and rankings.isinformed.
- In the anger condition, the self-report data was suspect because the student's didn't
want to express anger to the experimenter about participating in the test (i.e., they
wanted to do more tests in the future!). But based on behavior scores, people who were
ignorant of the effects were much angrier than those informed and the placebo.
- From the results it seems clear that people will assign an emotion to a physiological
change based on the available emotions in the social situation.
What Are Emotions?
• Other theories
• Appraisal theories
• Judgements/evaluations of events, occurrences, situations
• Ex. Relevant to survival
• Action tendencies
• Set of specific behavioural responses
• James-Lange Theory
• Emotions have an evolutionary origin
• Those ancestors that had genes for experience, recognition and
expression of emotion were more likely to survive.
• Action with minimal conscious thinking or deliberation
• Ex. Disgust. Those of our ancestors who after eating food
that was contaminated, if they could feel disgust and express
it, it shows other that they shouldn’t eat that food so those
people will be likely to survive if they can recognize the
emotion of disgust.
• Ex. Fear
• Emotions are universal because we share the same genes no matter
what culture you are from.
• Two-Factor Theory
• Emotions are grounded in the belief systems that shape our
• Interpretations are learned through socializations.
• Influenced by culture
• Cultural variation in emotions so not universal.
- Both of these theories are right!
Universality of Emotion
• Same facial musculature exists in newborns and adults
• Fully functional at birth
• Early in life humans show ability to generate discrete facial expressions
and as they infant develops, these expression become more and more
similar to expressions that adults convey. 4
• Ex. Human infants and adults
• High similarity between facial expressions of congenitally blind and sighted
• Charles Darwin (1872/1965)
• Humans and other primates share a common ancestor and because
emotions are biologically based, we should see the same expressions of
emotions in other primates.
• Examined facial expressions of closest relatives
• Striking similarities in expressions produced by chimpanzees and
humans for some emotions
• Ekman and Friesen (1971)
• Took photographs of people portraying 6 universally recognizable
• Chose the final set based on those most easily recognized by Americans
• Showed set to individuals in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Japan, US
• Participants were asked to select emotion term that best matches
the emotion portrayed in photograph
• Success rate due to guessing: 16.7%
• Actual success rate: 80% - 90% which are very high for chance. So across
those 5 cultures they were able to determine the emotions accurately.
• But all 5 cultures…
• were industrialized, literate, and relatively modern
• The cultures are probably very similar to each other…so not
enough power to detect differences.
• Learned how to interpret expressions in photographs
• shared mass media
• Ex. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. These movies
were shown in theatres in all five countries.
• Ekman, Sorenson, & Friesen (1969)
• Preliterate Fore of the inner highlands of New Guinea
• Never seen movies or magazines, didn’t speak English or any other
language influenced by a Western tongue, never worked for
Westerner…so very little exposure to western culture. If this culture
was to recognize emotions the same way as the westerners, then
that would show universality.
• Select a story that best described a facial expression
• They found that there was a high degree of similarity in judgments
of posed expressions.
• Imagine how you would feel and make the corresponding facial
expression in different situations. So they were asked to make facial
expressions for the following scenarios.
• Ex. “your friend has come and you are happy”, “your child had
has been ling there for a long time”.ght”, “you see a dead pig that
• Again, a high degree of similarity in the expressions produced
• emotions and showed them to westerners and asked them to judge theessing
emotion and found that they were accurate at describing the emotions.
• Six basic emotions. The first six are the basic emotions that showed to be
universal. They have a very distinct facial expression.
• Surprise 5
Universality of Basic Emotions
• Physiological responses
• Prepare the body to engage in activity in response to emotional stimuli
• Subjective emotional experience. How we subjectively experience six emotions.
So anger is associated with same subjected feeling.
• Coherence among emotion response systems. Looks at what is the relationship
between aspects of different emotions. So what happens to face when you feel
• Emotion antecedents. Antecedents are triggers of emotions.
• Ex. Happiness and relationships with friends, achievement. People are
likely to feel happiness across cultures when they think about friends and
• Ex. Sadness and relationships, death
• Emotional appraisal processes:
• Happiness: goal attainment or accomplishment
• Anger: goal obstruction
• Sadness: loss of a loved one or object
• Disgust: contamination
• Fear: threat to physical well-being or psychological well being
• Surprise: new or novel objects
• Contempt: moral superiority
• Biologically based and genetically encoded
• Shared with other animals
• Panculturally experienced, triggered
• Unique physiological signatures
• Identifiable via discrete, universally recognized facial expressions
• Allow us to adapt, respond, and with social and physical environment
Cultural Regulation of Basic Emotions
• Culture influences core, biologically-based emotion system to:
• Regulate emotion. So culture is what allows us to experience and express
emotion that is culturally and socially appropriate.
• Coordinate social behaviour. Cultures influences in how we coordinate
activities of people.
• Two types of cultural influence
• Front-end calibration
• Back-end calibration
• How culture influences how we respond to certain events.
• Biologically-based core emotions system is flexible because it allows us to adapt
to different context and different events that stem from culture.
• Adaptation to different contexts and events
• Emotion antecedents 6
• Ex. Scherer (1997b). Certain types of events are more important
triggers for emotions.
• More important for Americans vs. Japanese
• Happiness: body-centered “basic pleasures” are more
of a trigger of happiness for Americans than Japanese
where there is more focus on the individual.
• Sadness: death of family members is more important
trigger of sadness among Americans than Japanese.
• Emotion appraisals. Cultural variations in emotional appraisals.
• Ex. Americans
• Attribute joy, fear, shame, sadness to others
• Attribute sadness to themselves, and attribute joy, fear, and
shame to fate.
• Cultural display rules
• For example, certain Arab c