Emotions and Feelings
|Emotional states – temperament, mood and emotion
|Purpose of emotions
|Facial emotional indicators
|Expression of emotions
|Problems in cross cultural research of emotions
Emotions are universal phenomena; however, they are affected by culture. While some emotions are universal and are experienced in similar ways as a reaction to similar events across all cultures, other emotions show considerable cultural differences in their antecedent events, the way they are experienced, the reactions they provoke and the way they are perceived by the surrounding society.
Cultural studies of emotions originated from anthropology, sociology and psychology. The first accounts of emotion from a cultural perspective were ethnographic, and described emotions as idiosyncratic. Researchers such as Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson and Jean Briggs described unique emotional phenomena and stressed emotions as culturally determined. For example, Briggs lived among the Utku Inuit and described a society where anger and aggression almost never occur, despite the common western notion that anger is a primitive universal emotion. Although these ethnographic studies point to considerable cultural differences, no general conclusions can be drawn from them regarding what cultural aspects affect emotions, or what level the culture influence. For example, it might be that the same emotions are experienced by all human beings; however the events that evoke them or the reactions they cause differ across cultures.
In the 70’s, the psychologist showed that despite some idiosyncratic differences, the basic emotions are predominantly biological and thus are universal, expressed and perceived in similar way across all cultures. Those emotions are anger, fear, sadness, happiness and disgust.
There is evidence supporting both of these views on emotions. Theories that view emotions as culturally based tend to emphasize aspects related to the social environment: antecedent situations, overt behavior, and culturally specific ways of thinking and talking about emotions. Theories that regard emotions as universal, on the other hand, tend to focus on individual emotion elements such as facial expression.
More recent studies on culture and emotion use social psychology tools in order to find general cultural principles that affect emotions. These studies are often based on the classification of cultures according to certain values.…
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