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Chapter 3

PSYC18H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Culture Of Asia, Proverb, The Anatomy Of Dependence

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Gerald Cupchik

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PSYC18 Chapter 3
Cultural Understandings of Emotions
The Construction of Emotions in the West
We might note a distrust of emotions
o If you want to disparage another person’s argument, just say that person is being “emotional” meaning
Plata (375BCE) thought emotions arise from the lower part of the mind and pervert reason
Mistrust was brought into modern era by Darwin (1872) implied that in adult humans expressions of
emotions are obsolete, vestiges of our evolution from the beasts and our development from infancy
In the West, not very consistent, because we also think that emotions are the very guarantee of authenticity,
our best guide to our true selves
Western culture stances toward emotion, distrust on the one hand and appreciation on the other
Appreciation became marked in Europe and America during the historical era of Romanticism (era distinguished
from the term “romantic” – sexual as in “romantic love”
o In romantic era emotions came to be valued in personal life, in politics, in literature and in philosophy
Jean-Jacques Rousseau first published that religious sensibility is based on how you feel rather than on
authority, or on scripture, or on arguments for the existence of god
o Proposed that people’s natural emotions indicate what is right
o Wrote his book “The Social Contract”
1800s Romanticism become firmly part of western culture; more or less inseparable from ideas of individual
Romantics were fascinated by the natural world; writers began to explore the worlds of ordinary life
o Writing became a way of discovering inner emotional truths
o Mary Shelly’s Novel Frankenstein one of the world’s first science fiction stores
Many of the themes of Romanticism settings amid wild scenery, the emphasis of the natural,
distrust of the artificial, apprehension of humans arrogance
In the Romantic movement, we see core beliefs about human nature and about emotions as original,
primordial, authentic causes of behavior
Emotions powerful forces, often at odds with more deliberate, rational thought embodied in science and
codified in cultural conventions
The Elements of Cultural Approach to Emotion
Values, concepts and ideas about the self as expressed in art forms, rituals, social practices and institutions,
shape how members of particular societies experience emotion and that these matters are not universal
Cultural Approach involves the assumption that emotions are constructed primarily by the process of culture
o Aspects ranging from how emotions are valued to how they elicited are shaped by culture-specific
beliefs and practices, which in turn affected historical and economic forces
o Emotions can be thought of as roles that people fulfill to play out culture-specific identities in
E.g. Airline stewardess emotional- role in work
E.g. Averill argues that falling in love, like many emotions, acts as a temporary social role
Batja Mesquita (2001) contends that cultural approaches focus on the “practice” of emotion,
in contrast to “potential” for emotion
“Practice” – refers to what actually happens in people’s day-to-day emotional lives
Potential means asking whether people of different cultural, if put in an appropriate
experimental situation, would be capable of showing certain universal emotional
responses in terms of experience, expression and physiology

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In Western societies, people are concerned about their individuality, about self-actualizing about
freedom and self-expression
In Asian cultures, homilies (moralizing speech) and folk wisdom encourage different self
Two different kinds of Self Construal:
1. Independent self construal the self is autonomous and separate from others; imperative is to assert
one’s distinctiveness and independence and to define the self according to unique traits and
preferences; explains human behavior on internal causes, such as own dispositions or preferences
which are thought of as stable across time and social context
2. Interdependent self-construal collectivist; self fundamentally connected with other people,
imperative is to find one’s status, identity and roles within the community and other collectives; human
action the emphasis is on the social context and situational influences on behavior; one thinks as
oneself embedded within social relationships, roles, and duties, with a self is ever-changing and shaped
by different context relationships and roles
The independent self
The Interdependent self
I am autonomous, separate
I have unique traits and
My behavior is caused by
internal causes
Who I am is stable across
I am connected to others
I fulfill roles and duties
My behavior is the result of
social context
My identity varies across
How do these cultural-specific self-construals lead to cultural variations in emotions?
O In Japan anger is considered highly inappropriate b/w relations or colleagues
O American anger is relatively common and accepted even among people who know and like each other
O These cultural related differences may account of how Japanese and American infants respond to the
anger expressions of their parents
Miyake et all showed interesting toys to American and Japanese infants, pairing each toy
with the mother’s voice expression joy, anger or fear
American and Japanese showed no different in how soon they moved toward the sound of
mother’s joyful or fearful voices
However, American infants started moving toward the toy of 18 secs later, but Japanese infants
took significantly longer to start moving towards toys
Japanese babies were probably more inhibited by their mother’s angry expression bc
these were rare and highly negative events
O In JAPAN there is an emotion amae an interdependence, arising from a kind of merged
togetherness, from comfort in the other person’s complete acceptance (has no approved place in adult
western life)
Understanding cultural difference in emotion in terms of values refer to broad principles that govern
our social behavior
O Numerous values govern how as members of a culture coexist in communities and accomplish
tasks like allocating resources, pursuing different goals, fulfilling duties or punishing violations
E.g. In America act in accord to one’s innermost emotions; in Japan sincerity,
makoto, means doing a social duty not according to inner feelings but doing it
completely, with expertise, without inner conflict
O Member of cultures that differ in the importance of specific values should experience different
elicitors of emotions related to that value
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