The construction of emotion in the west
Distrust of emotion date back to Plato (375 BCE)He though emotion rises from the lower part of the
mind and the pervert reason.
Darwin implied human adults. Expressions of emotion are obsolete, vestiges of evolution from beasts,
and our development from infancy.
In the west, Emotion is guarantee of authenticity and best guide to self
distrust and appreciation of emotion are construction of western culture
In romantic era, emotions were to be valued in personal life, in politics, literature and philosophy.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1755) published that religion sensitivity is how you feel rather than authority.
-he though cultivated pursuits as artificial and corrupt
-instead proposed that education should be natural and that people’s natural emotion indicate what
By 1800 Romanticism become part of western culture more or less inseparable from ideas of
The elements of a cultural approach to emotion
the current conception and experience of emotion in the west illustrates that values, concepts and
ideas about the self is expressed in art form, rituals, social practices and institutions, shape how members
of particular societies experience emotion and that this matters are not universal.
cultural approach to emotion involves assumption that:
• Emotions are constructed primarily by culture-how it is valued and elicited is culture-specific
• Emotions can be thought of as role that people fulfill to play out culture-specific identities and
Batja Mesquita(2001) contends cultural approaches of emotion focuses on the “practice” (what actually
happens in people’s emotional lives) than “potential” (asking people of different cultures if put in an
experiment would be capable of showing certain universal emotions) .
Three specific approaches to emotions
Self construal approach: Independent and interdependent selves
www.notesolution.com The values approach
The Epistemological approach
1- Self construal approach: Independent and interdependent selves
Two kind s of self construal
• Independent self construal
o Self is autonomous
o The imperative is to assert one’s distinctiveness and independence
o Define self according to unique traits and preference.
When explaining human behavior, the focus is on internal causes such as one’s
own disposition and preferences which are though as stable across time and social
• Interdependent/collectivism self construal
o Self connected with other people
o The imperative is to assert one’s status, identity, and the roles within
When explaining human action the emphasis is on social context and situational
influences on behavior
- Culture-specific self construal leads to cultural variation.
- Negative emotion E.g. Anger in Japan is highly inappropriate between relation, in America it is
common and accepted
- Positive emotions e.g. Amae (togetherness/interdependency) in Japan is not approved in western
2- The values approach
-Cultural difference in Values principles that govern our social behavior
www.notesolution.com -different cultures attach different priorities to values like freedom, individual rights, sexual purity etc.
-cultures that differ in the importance of specific values should experience different elicitors of emotion
related to that value.
- Embarrassment, shame and pride more elaborated in hierarchal cultures
- Elicitors of jealousy may seem obvious in on culture but evoke jealousy in another-
difference is from cultural difference in sexual values
Heelas (1986) proposed
- Hypercognized meaning-in some cultures particular emotions is recognized, has
special names and is subject of social discussion emphasized in the language.
Example in china it is important to act in honor and to avoid losing face. Shame
is connected this values. It is hypercongnized
- Hypocognized –emotions seem little notice in some cultures; they are not
conceptualize or commented upon
3- The Epistemological approach
- are ways of knowing
- refer to knowledge structure and theories that guide patterns of thoughts, affect, and
behavior in domain specific
- Kaiping Peng and Richard NisbettEast Asians are guided in their knowledge and
thought by a holistic, dialectical system of thought that has roots in traditions e.g.
Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism
- This epistemology is based on 5 principle
Change so that nothing is static
Contradiction, that opposite are often consistent and both true
Covariation, so that events are interrelated in complex fields or systems
Compromise, so that truth may lie in the synthesis of opposites
Context, so that events occur not alone but in context
- Peng & Nisbett found Chinese proverbs involved more contradictions than American
which involved more one-sided
www.notesolution.com - East Asian experience greater emotional complexity: simultaneous experience of
contradiction of emotion-happy+sadness.
- Experience sampling studies in which student were beeped and reported on current
emotions, Chinese/Korean student reported feeling both negative and positive emotion
compared to Western students. Westerners maximize positive, minimize negative while
Asians balance it
Approaches to studying cultural influences on emotion
a) Cross cultural comparisons
- Cultural difference in elicitors
- Cultures differ in their emotional responses according to whether the elicitors of
emotion are socially “engaging” and involve other people or “disengaging” so
that they primarily involve self.
o Members of interdependent cultures like Japanese, Surinamese and
Turkish tend to experience positive emotions (calm, elation) in socially
engaging situations in contrast westerns experience positive emotion is
disengaged situations e.g. activities oriented to personal achievement.
- Cultural difference in Display values
- Display values influence how and to whom it is appropriate to express different
- Across culture people vary in how they modulate their expression of emotion
o People can intensity or de-intensify their emotional expression e.g. Ifaluk
people not appropriate to express too much happiness
o Asians culture –not appropriate to speak of personal accomplishments so
de-intensify emotion of personal success