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PSYC18H3 (274)
Chapter 3

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Michelle Hilscher

Understanding Emotions –3 Edition Chapter 3 – Cultural Understandings of Emotions The Construction of Emotions in the West - Plato – emotions arise from the lower part of the mind and pervert reason - Romanticism – era when emotions came to be valued in personal life, politics, literature, and philosophy - Frankenstein – actually about the emotional themes of Romanticism, and about the creature’s initial natural emotions of kindness A Cultural Approach to Emotion - Values, concepts and ideas about the self that are part of a cultural background shape how members of societies experience emotions - A cultural approach assumes that emotions are primarily constructed by the processes of culture and that emotions can be thought of as roles that people fulfill to play cultural-specific identities and relationships - Day-to-day emotional experiences of people from different cultures differ, often dramatically - Self-Construal: Independent and Interdependent Selves o Western societies are concerned with individuality, self-actualizing, freedom and self- expression o Independent self-construal – individualism, where asserting one’s independence and distinctiveness are the imperative, as well as defining oneself according to unique traits and preferences o Interdependent self-construal – collectivism, the self is fundamentally connected to other people, finding one’s status, identity and roles within society is the imperative o Different self-construals reveal how cultures influence the emotions we experience, which emotions we privilege and value, and ways in which we evoke emotional responses in others o Interdependent cultures – anger is infrequent and highly negative because it disrupts social harmony o Differences in self-construal also influence how people find happiness - Values o Principles that govern our social behaviour o Members of cultures that differ in the importance of specific values should experience different elicitors of emotions related to that value o Cultures vary as to which emotions are prominent in everyday life, which would be more readily elicited and experienced more intensely o Cultural differences in specific values influence spontaneous emotional response o Affect evaluation theory: emotions that promote specific cultural values and ideals are valued more and should play a more prominent role in the social lives of individuals - Epistemology o Ways of knowing; knowledge structures and theories that guide thought, emotion, and behaviour in domain-specific ways o East Asian epistemology: based on change (nothing is static), contradiction (opposites are true), covariation (events are interrelated in complex fields), compromise, and context o Emotional complexity: simultaneous experience of contradictory emotions Approaches to Studying Cultural Influences on Emotion - C
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