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Chapter 8 - Culture and Emotion

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Michelle Hilscher

Chapter 8 Culture and Emotion THEEVOLUTION OF HUMAN EMOTIONS Evolution as Evolved information-Processing Systems o Emotions inform us of who we are, what our relationships with others are like, and how to behave Emotions color our life experiences and give meaning to events o Emotions transient, neurological reactions to events that have consequences for our welfare, and require an immediate behavioral response. Include feelings, but also physiological reactions, expressive behaviors behavioral intensions and cognitive changes Feelings are a part of emotion but not emotion itself o Emotions are rapid information processing systems that evolved to help us act with minimal conscious thinking or deliberation This aspect of emotion helped us in our evolutionary history, as there were many instances in which immediate action without much thought was necessary to survive o Emotions are elicited as we scan our environments for events that may have consequences to our welfare o When emotions are triggered, they recruit a coordinated system of components: Subjective experience (feelings) Expressive behavior such as facial expressions or verbal utterances Physiological reactions such as increased heart rate Action tendencies such as moving toward or away from an object Cognition-specific patterns of thinking o Emotions are quick as they only last for a few seconds or minutes, while moods last much longer (hours or days) o Emotion is a human universal All humans in all cultures have emotions and we have mainly the same types of emotions Categories of Emotion o Basic emotions a small set of emotions, or family of emotions, that are considered to be universal to all humans, biologically based and genetically coded, and evolutionarily based Humans come into this world with programs for these basic emotions; social and cultural learning then influences how they are used in life o Self-conscious emotions emotions that focus on the self, such as shame, guilt, pride or embarrassment. Important in cultural studies because humans universally have a unique knowledge of self that is different from that of animals TheCultural Calibration of Emotions o Since one of the major aspects of culture is to maintain social order, cultures create rules, guidelines, values and norms concerning the regulation of emotion o Norms concerning emotional regulation in all cultures serve the purpose of maintaining social order by ensuring the engagement of culturally appropriate behavior mediated by culturally appropriate emotional responding o Cultural regulation of emotion occurs in several ways: Cultures regulate our biologically-based basic emotions Cultures help to construct unique emotional experiences that go beyond the basic emotions Cultures help to construct unique concepts, meanings, attitudes, values and beliefs about emotion THEBIOLIOGICAL BASES OF EMOTION BASIC EMOTIONS TheOriginal Universality Studies o Darwin Facial expressions of emotion, like other behaviors, are biologically innate and evolutionarily adaptive Darwin argued that humans express emotions in their faces exactly the same way around the world, regardless of race or culture Facial expressions of emotions have both communicative and adaptive value o At the same time, prominent anthropologists argued that facial expressions of emotions could not be universal; instead, they suggested that facial expressions of emotion had to be learned, just like language o Universality studies a series of studies conducted by Ekman and Friesen and by Izard that demonstrated the pan-cultural universality of facial expressions of emotion Photographs of facial expressions of emotions thought to portray universally recognizable emotions were shown to observers in different countries, who had to label each expression Results: There was a high level of agreement across all observers in five cultures in the interpretation of six emotions: anger, disgust, gear, happiness, sadness and surprise A problem with these studies was that all the cultures included in research were literate, industrialized, and relatively modern Two studies involving two preliterate tribes of New Guinea addressed these concerns: Participants were asked to select a story that best described a facial expression Participants were asked to show on their faces what they would look like if they experienced different emotions and these facial expressions were photographed Results: The data obtained was similar to those obtained in literature, industrial societies A question remained as to whether people actually spontaneously display those expressions on their faces when they experience emotion To address this question, Americans and Japanese participants were asked to view highly stressful stimuli as their facial reactions were videotaped without their awareness Results: Americans and Japanese displayed the same type of facial expressions at the same point in time and these expressions corresponded to the same expressions that were considered universal in the judgment research Researchon Facial Expressions of Emotion After theOriginal Universality Studies o Collectively, studies done post universality research demonstrate that the facial expressions actually do occur when emotion is aroused in people of different cultures o Evidence from studies of congenially blind individuals suggests that facial expressions of emotion are genetically encoded and not socially learned Compared the facial expression of blind and sighted athletes competing at the 2004 Athens Olympic and Paralympic games, immediately at the end of a match for medal Results: Almost a perfect correspondence between the facial behaviors produced between the blind and sighted athletes o A final
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