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Chapter 3

PSYC18 Chapter 3.docx

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Gerald Cupchik

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 “irrational”  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 freedom  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 relationships  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 THE SELF-CONSTRUCT APPROACH: INDEPENDENT AND INTERDEPENDENT SELVES  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 (Individualism) (Collectivist)  I am autonomous, separate  I am connected to others  I have unique traits and  I fulfill roles and duties preferences  My behavior is the result of  My behavior is caused by social context internal causes  My identity varies across  Who I am is stable across contexts contexts  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) THE VALUES APPROACH  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  Striking observations  Elicitors of jealousy that seem obvious in one culture do not seem to evoke jealously in another – these differences stem from cultural differences in sexual values O In the West  jealousy tends to be felt when the sexual attention of a primary partner turns toward someone else; society monogamy – leads to the 2 parent family is a cherished value and a key to establishing one’s adult status, economic security, housing and reading of children, adult companionship and sex  any sexual interloper threatens this value – jealousy felt O More clan-based societies  self is more interdependent, in such societies, collective – extramarital recreational sex is customary – core cultural value of jealousy is invoked when something highly values, which has been hard to achieve is threatened by an interloper  Hypercognized  emotions are emphasized in the language of the culture O E.g. Shame is a emotion in China that is important to act in honor, and reinforces social hierarchies – Chinese has 113 words related to the concept of shame  Hypocognized  emotions are not noticed, they are not conceptualized or commented upon O E.g. in Western culture, shame is on its way to being hypocognized THE EPISTEMOLOGICAL APPROACH  Epistemologies are ways of knowing – refer to knowledge structures and theories that guide patterns of thought, affect and behavior in domain-specific ways  East Asians – guided in their knowledge and thought by holistic, dialectical system of thought that has its roots in the great intellectual traditions of East Asia O Their epistemology is based on five principles 1. Change so that nothing is static 2. Contradiction, that opposites often are consistent and both true 3. Covariation, so events are interrelated in complex fields or systems 4. Compromise, so that truth may lie in the synthesis of opposites 5. Context, so that events occur not alone but it contexts  Peng and Nisbetter (1999)  tested the hypothesis that Asians should find greater meaning and even pleasure, in contradictory ideas than Americans O Found that Chinese proverb involved more contradiction (e.g. half humble is half proud) than American proverbs which is involved more one-sided, singular truths O Chinese students found contradictory, dialectical proverbs to be more comprehensible, likeable and usable O US students preferred the more linear proverbs  One would expect that as compared to Americans, East Asians might experience greater emotional complexity  the simultaneous experience of contradictory emotions, such as happiness and sadness, compassion and contempt, or anger and love O By contrast, Westerners might focus more on singular meanings of a situation and experience simpler emotions  In experience sampling studies  in which students are beeped electronically and reported on their current emotions, as well as in laboratory studies O East Asians  more likely to report positive and negative emotion in the particular movement O Western Europeans showed negative correlations in their reports of positive and negative emotion – the more they reported to one kind of emotion, say happiness, the less they reported of its opposite, say sadness O Westerners strive to maximize positive emotion and minimize negative emotion, whereas Asians seek a balanced emotional state Approaches to Studying Cultural Influences on Emotion CROSS CULTURAL COMPARISONS  There are universals i
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