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Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Course Code
Michelle Hilscher

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Chapter 3 – Cultural Understandings of Emotion
The construct of emotions in the west
Romanticism – emotions came to be valued in personal like, in politics in literature and in philosophy
oRousseau – first to publish the idea that religious sensibility is based on how you feel rather than
on authority or scriptures – education should be natural and that peoples natural emotions
indicate what is right.
The elements of a cultural approach to emotion
Romanticism shaped out current conception and experience of emotion in the west – we think emotions
are both irrational and authentic aspects of the true self are products of a particular culture.
Cultural approach to emotion?
oInvolves the assumption that emotions are constructed primarily by the process of culture
oSome cultural approaches is that emotions can be thought of as roles that people fulfill to play
out culture-specific identities and relationships
Mesquita – contends that cultural approaches focus on the practice of emotion in contrast to the potential
for emotion
oPotential – asking whether people of different cultures, if put in appropriate experimental
situation, would be capable of showing certain universal emotional responses (probably yes)
oPractice – what actually happens in peoples emotional lives
3 approaches that have emerged in psychologys new interest in culture:
The self-construal approach: independent and interdependent selves
Declaration of Independence prioritized the rights and freedom of the individual vs. Confucius
emphasized that importance of knowing ones place in society, honoring traditions and roles
Western socieities, people are concerned about their individuality about self-actualizing, about freedom
and self-expression
Markus characterized 2 different kinds of self-construal
oIndependent self-construal – autonomous and separate form others, focus on individualism,
assert ones distinctiveness and independence. When focusing on human behaviour the focus is
on internal causes (i.e. ones dispositions or preferences – which is stable over time & context)
oInterdependent self-construal – the self is fundamentally connected with other people, find
ones status, identity and roles within the community and other collectives, place emphasis on
social context an situational influences on behaviour
How do these construal lead to cultural variation in emotions?
oi.e. Japan & anger – appropriate in certain situations/social groups (i.e. samurai but frown upon
between co-workers)
ostudy – Japanese babies were probably more inhibited by their mother’s angry expressions
because these were rare and highly negative events
an example of difference between 2 construal – Amae – positive emotions of interdependence, kind of
merged togetherness. This emotion has no approved place in adult western society – view this as
The Values Approach
Understand cultural differences in emotion in terms of differences in values (broad principles that
govern social behaviour)
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