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PSYC18H3 (200)
Chapter 3

PSYC18H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Ifalik, Display Rules, Bungee Jumping

Course Code
G Cupchik

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Chapter 3
Culture  system of ideas and practices that are held in common in a particular society, or a set
of societies.
Society  group of people who live in a particular place at a particular time
Construction of Emotions in the West
In the West, we note a distrust of emotions  we say people are ‘too emotional’ = irrational
Goes back to Plato – thought emotions came from the lower part of the mind and denied
Distrust came into modern era by Darwin – implied that, for humans adults, emotions are
obsolete left over from evolution and our childhood
Still, on the other side of the spectrum, the West views emotions are the guarantee of
authenticity and our best guide to our true selves
Emotions signal how events in our environment correspond to our concerns and
During the era of Romanticism, there was more of an appreciation for emotions
Jean-Jacques Rousseau is responsible for one of the first articulations of Romantic spirit
– claimed that religious sensibility is based on how you feel rather than on authority
Core beliefs about emotions as primordial, authentic causes of behaviour
A Cultural Approach to Emotion
Cultural approach involves the assumption that emotions are constructed primarily by the
processes of culture.
More radical claim is that emotions derive from human meanings, which are necessarily
cultural – like languages or works of art
Second assumption is that emotions can be thought of as roles that people fulfill to play out
culture-specific identities and relationship
Mesquita says that cultural approaches focus on the ‘practice’ of emotion, in contrast to the
‘potential’ of emotion.
Potential  means asking whether people of different cultures, if put an appropriate
experimental situation, would be capable of showing certain universal emotional
oProbably yes
Practice  what actually happens in people’s emotional lives
People from different cultures are similar in their emotional potential (basic elements).
However, concrete emotional realities in different cultures vary
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Self-Construal: Independent and Interdependent Selves
Two kinds of self-construal:
1. Independent/individualism – assert one’s distinctiveness and independence
2. Interdependent/collectivist – self is fundamentally connected with other people. Find your
place in the community, family, and organizations
This can have effects in people’s emotions:
 Teenagers in independent cultures report higher emotional intensity for positive/negative
socially disengaging emotions (self-esteem & anger/frustration). Teenagers in interdependent
cultures report higher emotional intensity for socially engaging emotions (sympathy &
 Babies in interdependent cultures take longer to move back to their mothers (probably due to
shock/fear) after their mothers speak in an angry voice. In interdependent cultures, anger is less
likely to be expressed as it disrupts social harmony
 When finding happiness, interdependent is more likely to want to fulfill cultural norms and
fulfilling duties. Independent is more likely to find it in their expression of positive emotions
Values: principles that govern our social behaviour
Members of cultures that differ in the importance of specific values should experience different
elicitors of emotions related to that value.
Example: In the West, jealousy tends to be felt when the sexual attention of a primary partner
turns to someone else. In other cultures, extramarital recreational sex is customary. Their
jealousy comes from violation of other social norms.
Argument has been made that cultures vary as to which emotions are focal, or prominent in
daily life, due to their values
Focal emotions tend to be more readily elicited and experienced
In some cultures, the value of honor is focal = honour-protecting emotions such as
shame or anger are more focal
oCertain kinds of interpersonal violence is more widely tolerated as well as
violence against the self  suicide is more frequent
Emotional control is more highly valued in East Asian cultures.
Affect evaluation theory: emotions that promote specific cultural values and ideals are valued
more and as a result should play a more prominent role in the social lives of individuals
United States, excitement is highly valued – so they seek out activities such as sky
diving or bungee jumping
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