Chapter 8: Emotion
What is Emotions?
- James-Lange Theory of Emotions: our emotions are the physiological
responses or “bodily reverberations” to stimuli in our worlds and these
physiological responses were products of our autonomic nervous system
such as heart rate, breathing and pupil dilation.
○ Each emotion word is the description of a different bodily state
(embarrassment is the sensation of our body rushing to our faces).
○ It suggests that people in all cultures should have the same emotional
experiences and emotional experiences are universal.
- Two-Factor Theory of Emotions: emotions were primarily our
interpretations of those bodily responses (redirected from body to mind).
○ Schacter and Singer contended that emotion researchers had
neglected to study people’s interpretations of their physiological
sensations because the earlier studies and thought experiments had
never separated people’s interpretations from their actual
There are other interpretations to a pounding heart apart from
People look at cues from their environment to help them label
their physical sensations.
○ It suggests that our emotions are grounded in the belief systems that
shape our interpretations; thus, emotions might be interpreted in
different ways across cultures.
- Both theories recognize that we have physiological responses to events
that we witness in our environments but the emotional response is not
determined directly by the event itself.
○ Appraisal: the way we evaluate events in terms of their relevance to
Bears can be evaluated as frightening and threatening or cute in
Emotional appraisals are arguably universal (everybody feels fear
when life is threatened and everybody is disgusted when smelling
There are cultural differences in the ways people in them conceive
of hazards, novelty, opportunities and loss (different reasons why
they are sick; is it due to a guy on the subway, stress or God’s
○ Commonalities in people’s appraisals across cultures will lead to
similar emotional experiences whereas cross-cultural divergences in
people’s appraisals will lead to different emotional experiences.
Does Emotional Experience Vary Across Cultures?
- Facial expressions are part of our biological makeup and should be same
1 worldwide (infants, blind and adults show the same facial expressions for
- Ekman and Friesen: they took photos of the 6 different emotional
expressions (anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise) and
showed it to people in different countries (US, Brazil, Chile and natives
from New Guinea) to learn that facial expressions are universal.
- There is cultural variability in facial expressions.
○ People are more accurate in judging the facial expressions from their
○ The more people had been exposed to another culture, the more
accurate they were at decoding facial expressions from that culture.
○ Urban dwellers have been found to be more accurate at identifying
facial expressions than rural people (less contact with a diverse array
- Facial expressions we display are those we choose to display rather than
ones that simply reflexively appear when we have the emotion (we have
control over our emotions).
- Display Rules: culturally specific rules that govern which facial
expressions are appropriate in a given situation and how intensely they
should be exhibited.
○ Even though people in different cultures vary considerably in how
strongly they express certain emotions, it is possible that they are all
experiencing the same underlying feelings.
○ When in the presence of a superior, Japanese appear motivated to
present a polite, smiling face, thereby masking their true emotional
Japanese culture encourages a more restrained expression of
emotions than American culture.
○ Ritualized Displays: voluntary produced emotional expressions like
tongue biting suggest the existence of cultural display rules that lead
to express idiosyncratic facial expressions.
- Facial Feedback Hypothesis: one source of information we utilize when
inferring our feelings is our facial expressions.
- People from cultures in which inhibition of anger is more common would
suffer from more heart disease because they would often bottle up their
angry feelings (less regular heart rate and slower recovery of