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Do cultures differ in the perception of emotions from body expression?

Do cultures differ in the perception of emotions from body expression?



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In their classic study, Ekman and Friesen (1971) identified seven facial expressions recognised by people universally across all cultures as depicting certain emotions: happiness, sadness, surprise, fear, anger, disgust and contempt. This is quite solid paradigm, but recent studies showed some cross cultural differences. For example Western Caucasian observers tend to look fairly evenly across all areas of the face, whereas Eastern Asian observers focus their attention toward the eye region (Jack et al., 2009).

Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. V. (1971). Constants across cultures in the face and emotion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 17(2), 124-129.

Jack, R. E., Blais, C., Scheepers, C., Schyns, P. G., & Caldara, R. (2009). Cultural confusions show that facial expressions are not universal. Current biology, 19(18), 1543-8.

While facial expression literature on the topic is vast, there is very limited research into cross cultural differences in perception of emotions from dynamic body expression. There have been some attempts to look at the static body posture (Kleinsmith et al., 2006), but virtually nothing on the dynamic body expressions. Ok, there is one study by Sneddon et al. (2011) but their stimuli contain facial expression together with movement, and I am specifically interested in the research where participants only view body movement/expression.

Kleinsmith, A., De Silva, P. R., & Bianchi-Berthouze, N. (2006). Cross-cultural differences in recognizing affect from body posture. Interact. Comput., 18(6), 1371-1389.

Elfenbein, H. (2003). Universals and Cultural Differences in Recognizing Emotions. Current Directions in Psychological, 159-164.

Sneddon, I., McKeown, G., McRorie, M., & Vukicevic, T. (2011). Cross-cultural patterns in dynamic ratings of positive and negative natural emotional behaviour. PloS one, 6(2).

Is there any (published) research that has been done on comparing cross cultural differences in the perception of emotions from body movement?


The following article PERCEPTION OF EMOTIONS FROM FACES AND BODIES AND THE INFLUENCE OF CONTEXT by Charlotte Sinke (I have quoted the aims and outline from) examines in depth interpretation of dynamic body language and cross cultural differences. It discusses the availability of studies with static images, facial expressions and voice and the relationship between these in perception and cross cultural differences. Although this doesn't examine a large range of cultures, it's interesting and provides a good resource of cited articles.

Research aims and thesis outline

Previous emotion research has mainly focused on the perception of facial expressions. Only in recent years, bodily expressions are being studied. This has been done by using pictures of isolated bodies. However, in our daily life, bodies are not static and do not appear in isolation. Therefore, the stimuli used in Chapter 5 and 6 are dynamic. There is reason to believe that the perception of faces and bodies might be influenced by the context it is in. This can be the physical environment, the culture, or other people. The question therefore is how a face or a body, being emotional or not, is processed differently in specific contexts. Since everything that we do involves in some way other people, it is interesting to find out how the brain responds to an interaction between two people and whether it notices subtle differences in body language that can indicate whether a threat is going on. A final question was how attention can play a role in this perception.
Across cultures the expression of basic emotions is remarkably similar. However, emotion perception can be influenced by other factors, like the (social) context. Whether people from different cultures are differently influenced by this will be discussed in Chapter 2. More specifically, Dutch and Chinese students were tested on whether they show differences in the recognition of facial but also bodily expressions and whether they are differently influenced by context. The studies described in this chapter are purely behavioural.
Moving away from cultural differences, in Chapter 3 the influence of context on face processing is investigated using fMRI. Chapter 4 elaborates on the data from this study. Here, the activation of extrastriate body area is discussed in relation to its response to threatening scenes specifically.
The study performed in Chapter 5 moves from static pictures to dynamic movies of two people interacting. This interaction was either threatening or teasing. A difference is made in whether participants actively try to guess what goes on in each situation or perform an unrelated task. Chapter 6 expands on perceiving threatening social interactions by using two different attention levels and letting the participant focus on only one of the two protagonists (always one of them being angry at the other) in each movie.
Finally, in Chapter 7, the insights gathered from the preceding chapters are summarized.

Charlotte Sinke

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Interesting quote:

“Every phase of movement, every small transference of weight, every single gesture of any part of the body reveals some feature of… inner life.” ~ Rudolf Laban ~


Perception of emotion is culture-specific

Want to know how a Japanese person is feeling? Pay attention to the tone of his voice, not his face. That&rsquos what other Japanese people would do, anyway. A new study examines how Dutch and Japanese people assess others&rsquo emotions and finds that Dutch people pay attention to the facial expression more than Japanese people do.

&ldquoAs humans are social animals, it&rsquos important for humans to understand the emotional state of other people to maintain good relationships,&rdquo says Akihiro Tanaka of Waseda Institute for Advanced Study in Japan. &ldquoWhen a man is smiling, probably he is happy, and when he is crying, probably he&rsquos sad.&rdquo Most of the research on understanding the emotional state of others has been done on facial expression Tanaka and his colleagues in Japan and the Netherlands wanted to know how vocal tone and facial expressions work together to give you a sense of someone else&rsquos emotion.

For the study, Tanaka and colleagues made a video of actors saying a phrase with a neutral meaning&mdash&ldquoIs that so?&rdquo&mdashtwo ways: angrily and happily. This was done in both Japanese and Dutch. Then they edited the videos so that they also had recordings of someone saying the phrase angrily but with a happy face, and happily with an angry face. Volunteers watched the videos in their native language and in the other language and were asked whether the person was happy or angry. They found that Japanese participants paid attention to the voice more than Dutch people did&mdasheven when they were instructed to judge the emotion by the faces and to ignore the voice. The results are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

This makes sense if you look at the differences between the way Dutch and Japanese people communicate, Tanaka speculates. &ldquoI think Japanese people tend to hide their negative emotions by smiling, but it&rsquos more difficult to hide negative emotions in the voice.&rdquo Therefore, Japanese people may be used to listening for emotional cues. This could lead to confusion when a Dutch person, who is used to the voice and the face matching, talks with a Japanese person they may see a smiling face and think everything is fine, while failing to notice the upset tone in the voice. &ldquoOur findings can contribute to better communication between different cultures,&rdquo Tanaka says.


Culture Is Key To Interpreting Facial Emotions

Research has uncovered that culture is a determining factor when interpreting facial emotions. The study reveals that in cultures where emotional control is the standard, such as Japan, focus is placed on the eyes to interpret emotions. Whereas in cultures where emotion is openly expressed, such as the United States, the focus is on the mouth to interpret emotion.

Across two studies, using computerized icons and human images, the researchers compared how Japanese and American cultures interpreted images, which conveyed a range of emotions.

"These findings go against the popular theory that the facial expressions of basic emotions can be universally recognized," said University of Alberta researcher Dr. Takahiko Masuda. "A person's culture plays a very strong role in determining how they will perceive emotions and needs to be considered when interpreting facial expression"

These cultural differences are even noticeable in computer emoticons, which are used to convey a writer's emotions over email and text messaging. Consistent with the research findings, the Japanese emoticons for happiness and sadness vary in terms of how the eyes are depicted, while American emoticons vary with the direction of the mouth. In the United States the emoticons : ) and : - ) denote a happy face, whereas the emoticons :( or : - ( denote a sad face. However, Japanese tend to use the symbol (^_^) to indicate a happy face, and (_) to indicate a sad face.

When participants were asked to rate the perceived levels of happiness or sadness expressed through the different computer emoticons, the researchers found that the Japanese still looked to the eyes of the emoticons to determine its emotion.

"We think it is quite interesting and appropriate that a culture that tends to masks its emotions, such as Japan, would focus on a person's eyes when determining emotion, as eyes tend to be quite subtle," said Masuda. "In the United States, where overt emotion is quite common, it makes sense to focus on the mouth, which is the most expressive feature on a person's face."

These findings are published in the current issue of The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology and are a result from a collaborative study between Masaki Yuki (Hokkaido University), William Maddux (INSEAD) and Takahiko Masuda (University of Alberta). The results also suggest the interesting possibility that the Japanese may be better than Americans at detecting "false smiles". If the position of the eyes is the key to whether someone's smile is false or true, Japanese may be particularly good at detecting whether someone is lying or being "fake". However, these questions can only be answered with future research.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Alberta. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Effects on Behavior

The effect that culture has on individual behavior is a major topic of interest in the field of cross-cultural psychology. Cross-cultural psychologists study how different cultural factors influence individual behavior. They often focus on things that are universal among different cultures of the world, as well as differences among societies.

One interesting phenomenon that cross-cultural psychologists have observed is how people from individualist cultures describe themselves compared to how those from collectivist cultures describe themselves.

People from individualist societies have self-concepts that are more focused on independence rather than interdependence. As a result, they tend to describe themselves in terms of their unique personal characteristics and traits.

A person from an individualistic culture might say "I am analytical, sarcastic, and athletic." This can be contrasted with self-descriptions from people living in collectivist societies, who would be more likely to say something like, "I am a good husband and loyal friend."

Just how much do these self-descriptions vary depending upon culture? Research conducted by Ma and Schoenemann found that while 60% of Kenyans (a collectivist culture) described themselves in terms of their roles within groups while 48% of Americans (an individualist culture) used personal characteristics to describe themselves.  


Cultural Differences in Body Language to be Aware of

Body language makes up the largest part of our non-verbal communication - eye contact, gestures, and facial expressions can convey powerful messages. As William Shakespeare said in Troilus and Cressida - ‘There’s language in her eye, her cheek, her lip’.

However, there are substantial cultural differences in how people use body language to communicate. Sometimes it is very obvious, many times very subtle.

Whether in a culturally diverse company or visiting emerging markets, understanding what people mean through their body language can be a challenge.

Greetings with a handshake

Even the simple handshake can vary from culture to culture. A handshake is widely accepted as the norm, however you’ll need to vary the firmness depending on the location. Western culture typically perceives a strong handshake as authoritative and confidence, where as many parts of the Far East perceive a strong handshake as aggressive, and usually bow instead.

In parts of Northern Europe, a quick firm handshake is the norm. In parts of Southern Europe, Central and South America, a handshake is longer and warmer, with the left hand usually touching the clasped hands or elbow. Beware that in Turkey, a firm handshake is considered rude and aggressive. In certain African countries, a limp handshake is the standard (Guide to African handshakes). Men in Islamic countries never shake the hands of women outside the family.

Facial expressions

Many facial expressions appear to be universal and recognised all over the globe.

Research carried out by the Paul Ekman Group, an American Psychologist, showed that over 90% of common facial expressions were identified by people in very different cultures. Over 10,000 facial expressions were created for the study and shown to different western cultures and isolated, pre-literate African groups.

In general, there are seven different facial expressions which correspond to distinct universal facial emotions:

  • Happiness - Raising and lowering of mouth corners, cheeks raised, and muscles around the eyes are tightened.
  • Sadness - lowering of mouth corners and raising inner portion of brows.
  • Surprise - Arching of eyebrows, eyelids pulled up and sclera exposed, mouth open.
  • Fear - Brows arched and pulled together, eyes wide open, mouth slightly open.
  • Disgust - Eyebrows lowered, upper lip raised, nose wrinkled, cheeks raised.
  • Anger - Brows lowered, eyes bulging, lips pressed firmly.

Hand gestures

We use gestures as a way to emphasis points and illustrate what we are saying.

Hand gestures can mean very different things in different cultures the ‘OK’ sign in Greece, Spain or Brazil means you are calling someone an a**hole. In Turkey, it’s meant to be an insult towards gay people.

A thumbs up in America and European cultures is an indicator of a job well done, however in Greece or the Middle East, it can mean ‘up yours’

Curling the index finger with the palm facing up is a common gesture that people in United States and parts of Europe use to beckon someone to come closer. However, it is considered rude in China, East Asia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, and many other parts of the world. It’s also considered extremely impolite to use this gesture with people. It is used only to beckon dogs in many Asian countries - and using it in the Philippines can get you arrested.

On Inauguration Day 2005, President George W. Bush raised his fist, with the index and little finger extended, in the shape of the Texas Longhorn football team logo. Newspapers around the world expressed their astonishment at the use of such a gesture. In many Mediterranean and Latin countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Spain, Italy and Portugal, to make this sign at someone is to tell them that their spouse is cheating on them.

Eye contact

In most western countries, eye contact is a sign of confidence and attentiveness. We tend to assume that if someone looks away while we are talking to them, they’re disinterested and looking for someone else to talk to.

In many Middle Eastern countries, same-gender eye contact tends to be more sustained and intense than the western standard. In some of these countries, eye contact beyond a brief glance between the sexes is deemed inappropriate.

In many Asian, African, and Latin American countries, however, this unbroken eye contact would be considered aggressive and confrontational. These cultures tend to be quite conscious of hierarchy, and avoiding eye contact is a sign of respect for bosses and elders.

In these parts of the world, children won’t look at an adult who is speaking to them, and nor will employees to their bosses.

Eye contact variation by culture:

  • Used a lot in regions such as the Middle East, Mediterranean cultures, Europeans and Latin Americans.
  • Used often in much of Northern Europe and North America
  • Used somewhat carefully in cultures in Africa, Middle East, Korea and Thailand
  • Used carefully in most of the Far East

Moving your head

In some parts of India, people tilt their head from side to side to confirm something and demonstrate that they are actively listening. The side to side head movement originates from British occupation, as the occupied Indian people were afraid to ever gesture ‘no’ to soldiers but wanted to show signs of understanding.

A video decoding Indian headshakes went viral, attracting over a million hits in a week.

Touch

Northern Europe and the Far East as classed as non-contact cultures. There is very little physical contact beyond a handshake with people we don’t know well. Even accidentally brushing someone’s arm on the street warrants an apology.

An innocent hug made headlines around the world in 2009 when America's first lady, Michelle Obama, broke royal protocol on a visit to Britain by hugging the Queen.

By comparison, in the high-contact cultures of the Middle East, Latin America, and southern Europe, physical touch is a big part of socialising.

In much of the Arab world, men hold hands and kiss each other in greeting, but would never do the same with a woman.

In Thailand and Laos, it is taboo to touch anyone’s head, even children. In South Korea, elders can touch younger people with force when trying to get through a crowd, but younger people can’t do the same.

Physical contact variation by culture:

  • High Contact cultures tend to stand close when speaking and make physical contact more often. Latin America, Southern Europe and most Middle Eastern nations are examples.
  • Medium Contact cultures stand quite close when speaking and will touch on occasion. Such cultures include Northern Europe and North America.
  • Low Contact cultures stand at a greater distance and generally avoid physical contact. The Far East is an example.

These rules are usually quite complex. They may differ depending on the age, gender, ethnicity, profession and status of the people involved.

Sitting positions

Be aware of your posture when you attend meetings or are dining. Sitting cross-legged is seen as disrespectful in Japan, especially in the presence of someone older or more respected than you.

Showing the soles of your shoes or feet can offend people in parts of the Middle East and India. That is why throwing shoes at someone is a form of protest and an insult in many parts of the world - as former U.S. President George W. Bush famously discovered on a visit to Iraq in 2008.

Silence

Though it can feel like a void in communication, silence can be very meaningful in different cultural contexts. Western cultures, especially North America and the UK, tend to view silence as problematic. In our interactions at work, school, or with friends, silence is uncomfortable. It is often perceived as a sign of inattentiveness or disinterest.

In other cultures, however, silence is not viewed as a negative circumstance. In China, silence can be used to show agreement and receptiveness. In many aboriginal cultures, a question will be answered only after a period of contemplative silence. In Japan, silence from women can be considered an expression of femininity.

Gender

In many cultures, what is acceptable for a man may not be acceptable for a woman. The most obvious example is the issue of covering your head in some Muslim countries but also, within religions such as Islam and Hinduism, shaking a woman's hand can be considered offensive.

Conclusion

Modern transportation and an increase in expendable income allow us to visit a huge range of cultures. We’ve discussed how gestures, eye contact, greetings and physical contact can have very different meanings in different countries and cultures so you’ll want to learn as much as you can about the country's etiquette, values and styles of communication before you visit.

Being able to understand cultural differences will improve your working relationships and potentially make you more successful in an increasingly globalized, multi-cultural working world.


Contents

Research on the relationship between culture and emotions dates back to 1872 when Darwin [2] argued that emotions and the expression of emotions are universal. Since that time, the universality of the seven basic emotions [3] (i.e., happiness, sadness, anger, contempt, fear, disgust, and surprise) has ignited a discussion amongst psychologists, anthropologists, and sociologists. While emotions themselves are universal phenomena, they are always influenced by culture. How emotions are experienced, expressed, perceived, and regulated varies as a function of culturally normative behavior by the surrounding society. Therefore, it can be said that culture is a necessary framework for researchers to understand variations in emotions. [4]

In Darwin's opening chapter of The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, (1872/1998) Darwin considered the face to be the preeminent medium of emotional expression in humans, and capable of representing both major emotions and subtle variations within each one. Darwin's ideas about facial expressions and his reports of cultural differences became the foundation for ethological research strategies. Silvan Tomkins' (1962) Affect Theory [5] 1963 [6] ) built upon Darwin's research, arguing that facial expressions are biologically based, and universal manifestations of emotions. The research of Paul Ekman (1971) [7] and Carroll Izard (1971) [8] further explored the proposed universality of emotions, showing that the expression of emotions were recognized as communicating the same feelings in cultures found in Europe, North and South America, Asia, and Africa. Ekman (1971) [7] and Izard (1971) [8] both created sets of photographs displaying emotional expressions that were agreed upon by Americans. These photographs were then shown to people in other countries with the instructions to identify the emotion that best describes the face. The work of Ekman, and Izard, concluded that facial expressions were in fact universal, innate, and phylogenetically derived. Some theorists, including Darwin, even argued that "Emotion . is neuromuscular activity of the face". Many researchers since have criticized this belief and instead argue that emotions are much more complex than initially thought. In addition to pioneering research in psychology, ethnographic accounts of cultural differences in emotion began to emerge. Margaret Mead, a cultural anthropologist writes about unique emotional phenomena she experienced while living among a small village of 600 Samoans on the island of Ta'u in her book Coming of Age in Samoa. [9] Gregory Bateson, an English anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, and visual anthropologist used photography and film to document his time with the people of Bajoeng Gede in Bali. According to his work, cultural differences were very evident in how the Balinese mothers displayed muted emotional responses to their children when the child showed a climax of emotion. In displays of both love (affection) and anger (temper) Bateson's notes documented that mother and child interactions did not follow Western social norms. The fieldwork of anthropologist Jean Briggs [10] details her almost two year experience living with the Utku Inuit people in her book Never in Anger: Portrait of an Eskimo Family. Briggs lived as the daughter of an Utku family describing their society as particularly unique emotional control. She rarely observed expressions of anger or aggression and if it were expressed, it resulted in ostracism.

Scholars working on the history of emotions have provided some useful terms for discussing cultural emotion expression. Concerned with distinguishing a society's emotional values and emotional expressions from an individual's actual emotional experience, William Reddy has coined the term emotive. In The Making of Romantic Love, Reddy uses cultural counterpoints to give credence to his argument that romantic love is a 12th-century European construct, built in a response to the parochial view that sexual desire was immoral. Reddy suggests that the opposition of sexual ardor and true love was not present in either Heain Japan or the Indian kingdoms of Bengal and Orissa. [11] Indeed, these cultures did not share the view of sexual desire as a form of appetite, which Reddy suggests was widely disseminated by the Church. Sexuality and spirituality were not conceived in a way which separated lust from love: indeed, sex was often used as a medium of spiritual worship, emulating the divine love between Krishna and Rada. [11] Sexual desire and love were inextricable from one another. Reddy therefore argues that the emotion of romantic love was created in Europe in the 12th century, and was not present in other cultures at the time. [11]

Culture provides structure, guidelines, expectations, and rules to help people understand and interpret behaviors. Several ethnographic studies suggest there are cultural differences in social consequences, particularly when it comes to evaluating emotions. For example, as Jean Briggs described in the Utku Eskimo population, anger was rarely expressed, and in the rare occasion that it did occur, it resulted in social ostracism. These cultural expectations of emotions are sometimes referred to as display rules. Psychologists (Ekman & Friesen, 1969 [12] Izard, 1980 [13] Sarni, 1999 [14] ) believe that these rules are learned during a socialization process. Ekman and Friesen (1975) [15] have also suggested that these "unwritten codes" govern the manner in which emotions may be expressed, and that different rules may be internalized as a function of an individual's culture, gender or family background. Miyamoto & Ryff (2011) [16] used the term cultural scripts to refer to cultural norms that influence how people expect emotions to be regulated. Cultural scripts dictate how positive and negative emotions should be experienced and combined. Cultural scripts may also guide how people choose to regulate their emotions which ultimately influences an individual's emotional experience. For example, research suggests that in Western cultures, the dominant social script is to maximize positive emotions and minimize negative emotions. [17] In Eastern cultures, the dominant cultural script is grounded in "dialectical thinking" and seeking to find a middle way by experiencing a balance between positive and negative emotions. Because normative behaviors in these two cultures vary, it should also be expected that their cultural scripts would also vary. Tsai et al. (2007) [18] argues that not only do cultural factors influence ideal affect (i.e., the affective states that people ideally want to feel) but that the influence can be detected very early. Their research suggests that preschool aged children are socialized to learn ideal affect through cultural products such as children storybooks. They found that European American preschool children preferred excited (vs. calm) smiles and activities more and perceived an excited (vs. calm) smile as happier than Taiwanese Chinese preschoolers. This is consistent with American best sellers containing more excited and arousing content in their books than the Taiwanese best sellers. These findings suggest that cultural differences in which emotions are desirable or, ideal affect, become evident very early.

Culture and emotional experiences Edit

A cultural syndrome as defined by Triandis (1997) [19] is a "shared set of beliefs, attitudes, norms, values, and behavior organized around a central theme and found among speakers of one language, in one times period, and in one geographic region". Because cultures are shared experiences, there are obvious social implications for emotional expression and emotional experiences. For example, the social consequences of expressing or suppressing emotions will vary depending upon the situation and the individual. Hochschild (1983) [20] discussed the role of feeling rules, which are social norms that prescribe how people should feel at certain times (e.g. wedding day, at a funeral). These rules can be general (how people should express emotions in general) and also situational (events like birthdays). Culture also influences the ways emotions are experienced depending upon which emotions are valued in that specific culture. For example, happiness is generally considered a desirable emotion across cultures. In countries with more individualistic views such as America, happiness is viewed as infinite, attainable, and internally experienced. In collectivistic cultures such as Japan, emotions such as happiness are very relational, include a myriad of social and external factors, and reside in shared experiences with other people. Uchida, Townsend, Markus, & Bergseiker (2009) [21] suggest that Japanese contexts reflect a conjoint model meaning that emotions derive from multiple sources and involve assessing the relationship between others and the self. However, in American contexts, a disjoint model is demonstrated through emotions being experienced individually and through self-reflection. Their research suggests that when Americans are asked about emotions, they are more likely to have self-focused responses "I feel joy" whereas a Japanese typical reaction would reflect emotions between the self and others "I would like to share my happiness with others."

Emotions play a critical role in interpersonal relationships and how people relate to each other. Emotional exchanges can have serious social consequences that can result in either maintaining and enhancing positive relationships, or becoming a source of antagonism and discord (Fredrickson, 1998 [22] Gottman & Levenson, 1992) [23] ). Even though people may generally "want to feel better than worse" (Larsen, 2000), [24] ) how these emotions are regulated may differ across cultures. Research by Yuri Miyamoto suggests that cultural differences influence emotion regulation strategies. Research also indicates that different cultures socialize their children to regulate their emotions according to their own cultural norms. For example, ethnographic accounts suggest that American mothers think that it is important to focus on their children's successes while Chinese mothers think it is more important to provide discipline for their children. [25] To further support this theory, a laboratory experiment found that when children succeeded on a test, American mothers were more likely than Chinese mothers to provide positive feedback (e.g. "You're so smart!"), in comparison to Chinese mothers who provided more neutral or task relevant feedback (e.g. "Did you understand the questions or did you just guess?" Ng, Pomerantz, & Lam, 2007 [26] ). This shows how American mothers are more likely to "up-regulate" positive emotions by focusing on their children's success whereas Chinese mothers are more likely to "down-regulate" children's positive emotions by not focusing on their success. Americans see emotions as internal personal reactions emotions are about the self (Markus & Kityama, 1991 [27] ). In America, emotional expression is encouraged by parents and peers while suppression is often disapproved. Keeping emotions inside is viewed as being insincere as well as posing a risk to one's health and well being. [28] In Japanese cultures, however, emotions reflect relationships in addition to internal states. Some research even suggests that emotions that reflect the inner self cannot be separated from emotions that reflect the larger group. Therefore, unlike American culture, expression of emotions is often discouraged, and suppressing one's individual emotions to better fit in with the emotions of the group is looked at as mature and appropriate. [29]

Emotional perception and recognition Edit

The role of facial expressions in emotional communication is often debated. While Darwin believed the face was the most preeminent medium of emotion expression, more recent scientific work challenges that theory. Furthermore, research also suggests that cultural contexts behave as cues when people are trying to interpret facial expressions. In everyday life, information from people's environments influences their understanding of what a facial expression means. According to research by Masuda et al. (2008), [30] people can only attend to a small sample of the possible events in their complex and ever- changing environments, and increasing evidence suggests that people from different cultural backgrounds allocate their attention very differently. This means that different cultures may interpret the same social context in very different ways. Since Americans are viewed as individualistic, they should have no trouble inferring people's inner feelings from their facial expressions, whereas Japanese people may be more likely to look for contextual cues in order to better understand one's emotional state. Evidence of this phenomenon is found in comparisons of Eastern and Western artwork. In Western art there is a preoccupation with the face that does not exist in Eastern art. For example, in Western art the figure occupies a larger part of the frame and is clearly noticeably separated from the ground. In East Asian artwork, the central figure is significantly smaller and also appears to be more embedded in the background. [31] In a laboratory setting, Masuda et al. [30] also tested how sensitive both Americans and Japanese would be to social contexts by showing them pictures of cartoons that included an individual in the context of a group of four other people. They also varied the facial expressions of the central figure and group members. They found that American participants were more narrowly focused with judging the cartoon's emotional states than the Japanese participants were. In their recognition task they also observed that the Japanese participants paid more attention to the emotions of the background figures than Americans did.

Contemporary literature has traced the influence of culture on a variety of aspects of emotion, from emotional values to emotion regulation. Indeed, culture may be best understood as a channel through which emotions are molded and subsequently expressed. Indeed, this had been most extensively discussed in psychology by examining individualistic and collectivistic cultures.

The individualistic vs. collectivistic cultural paradigm has been widely used in the study of emotion psychology. Collectivistic cultures are said to promote the interdependence of individuals and the notion of social harmony. Indeed, Niedenthal suggests that: "The needs, wishes, and desires of the collectives in which individuals find themselves are emphasized, and the notion of individuality is minimized or even absent from the cultural model". [1] Individualistic cultures, however, promote individual autonomy and independence. Individual needs, wishes, and desires are emphasized and the possibility of personal attainment is encouraged. Collectivistic cultures include those of Asia and Latin America, whilst individualistic cultures include those of North America and Western Europe. North America, specifically, is seen to be the prototype of an individualistic culture. [1]

Research has shown that the collectivism vs. individualism paradigm informs cultural emotional expression. An influential paper by Markus & Kitayama, on the influence of culture on emotion, established that in more collectivistic cultures, emotions were conceived as relational to the group. [32] Thus, in collectivistic cultures, emotions are believed to occur between people, rather than within an individual. [32] When Japanese school students were asked about their emotions, they usually stated than an emotion comes from their outside social surroundings. [33] When asked about where the emotions they feel originate from, Japanese school students never referred to themselves first. [33] This suggests that Japanese people believe emotions exist within the environment, between individuals, in line with collectivistic values. [33] Individualistic cultures, however, conceive emotions as independent internal experiences, occurring within an individual. When American school students were asked about their emotions, they usually stated that they experienced emotions within themselves. [33] This suggests that Americans consider emotions as personal, experienced internally and independently. Markus & Kitayama purport that emotions like friendliness and shame - which promote interconnectedness - are predominant in Asian culture. Conversely, European-American cultures were shown to be predominated by individualistic emotions, such as pride or anger. [32]

Emotion suppression Edit

Collectivistic cultures are believed to be less likely to express emotions, in fear of upsetting social harmony. Miyahara, referencing a study conducted on Japanese interpersonal communication, purports that the Japanese "are low in self disclosure, both verbally and non-verbally. Most of these attributes are ascribed to the Japanese people's collectivistic orientations". [34] The study conducted showed that Japanese individuals have a relatively low expression of emotion. Niedenthal further suggests that: "Emotional moderation in general might be expected to be observed in collectivist cultures more than in individualistic cultures, since strong emotions and emotional expression could disrupt intra-group relations and smooth social functioning". [1]

Individualistic cultures are seen to express emotions more freely than collectivistic cultures. In a study comparing relationships among American and Japanese individuals, it was found that: "People in individualistic cultures are motivated to achieve closer relationships with a selected few, and are willing to clearly express negative emotions towards others". [35] Research by Butler et al., found that the social impact of emotion suppression is moderated by the specific culture. Whilst the suppression of emotion by those with European Americans values led to non-responsive reactions and hostility, individuals with bicultural Asian-American values were perceived as less hostile and more engaged when they suppressed their emotions. [36] Thus, individuals with Asian-American values were more skilled in emotional suppression than individuals with European-American values. The article explanation is that Asian-Americans may engage in habitual suppression more often as negative emotions are seen to cause social disharmony and thus contradict cultural values. [36]

Culture and emotion socialization Edit

Research undertaken in the socialization of children cross-culturally has shown how early cultural influences start to affect emotions. Studies have shown the importance of socializing children in order to imbue them with emotional competence. [37] Research by Friedlmeier et al., suggests children must be socialized in order to meet the emotional values and standards of their culture. [37] For instance, in dealing with negative emotions, American parents were more likely to encourage emotion expression in children, thus promoting autonomy and individualistic competence. [37] East Asian parents, however, attempted to minimize the experience of the negative emotion, by either distracting their child or trying to make their child suppress the emotion. This promotes relational competence and upholds the value of group harmony. [37] Children are thus socialized to regulate emotions in line with cultural values.

Further research has assessed the use of storybooks as a tool with which children can be socialized to the emotional values of their culture. [38] Taiwanese values promote ideal affect as a calm happiness, where American ideal affect is excited happiness. [38] Indeed, it was found that American preschoolers preferred excited smiles and perceived them as happier than Taiwanese children did, and these values were seen to be mirrored in storybook pictures. [38] Importantly, it was shown that across cultures, exposure to story books altered children's preferences. Thus, a child exposed to an exciting (versus calm) book, would alter their preference for excited (versus calm) activity. [38] This shows that children are largely malleable in their emotions, and suggests that it takes a period of time for cultural values to become ingrained.

Another study has shown that American culture values high arousal positive states such as excitement, over low arousal positive states such as calmness. [39] However, in Chinese culture low arousal positive states are preferable to high arousal positive states. The researchers provide a framework to explain this, suggesting that high arousal positive states are needed in order to influence someone else, where low arousal positive states are useful for adjusting to someone else. [39] This explanation is in line with the collectivism-individualism dichotomy: American values promote individual autonomy and personal achievement, where Asian values promote relational harmony. Emotion expression is consequently seen to be influenced largely by the culture in which a person has been socialized.

Culture of honor Edit

Nisbett & Cohen's 1996 study Culture of Honor examines the violent honor culture in the Southern states of the USA. The study attempts to address why the southern USA is more violent, with a higher homicide rate, than its northern counterpart. It is suggested that the higher rate of violence is due to the presence of a 'culture of honor' in the southern USA. [40] A series of experiments were designed to determine whether southerners got angrier than northerners when they were insulted. In one example, a participant was bumped into and insulted, and their subsequent facial expressions were coded. Southerners showed significantly more anger expressions. [40] Furthermore, researchers measured cortisol levels, which increase with stress and arousal, and testosterone levels, which increase when primed for aggression. In insulted southerners, cortisol and testosterone levels rose by 79% and 12% respectively, which was far more than in insulted northerners. [40] With their research, Nisbett & Cohen show that southern anger is expressed in a culturally specific manner.

One of the biggest challenges in cultural research and human emotions is the lack of diversity in samples. Currently, the research literature is dominated by comparisons between Western (usually American) and Eastern Asian (usually Japanese or Chinese) sample groups. This limits our understanding of how emotions vary and future studies should include more countries in their analyses. Another challenge outlined by Matsumoto (1990) [41] is that culture is ever changing and dynamic. Culture is not static. As the cultures continue to evolve it is necessary that research capture these changes. Identifying a culture as "collectivistic" or "individualistic" can provide a stable as well as inaccurate picture of what is really taking place. No one culture is purely collectivistic or individualistic and labeling a culture with these terms does not help account for the cultural differences that exist in emotions. As Matsumoto argues, a more contemporary view of cultural relations reveals that culture is more complex than previously thought. Translation is also a key issue whenever cultures that speak different languages are included in a study. Finding words to describe emotions that have comparable definitions in other languages can be very challenging. For example, happiness, which is considered one of the six basic emotions, in English has a very positive and exuberant meaning. In Hindi, Sukhi is a similar term however it refers to peace and happiness. Although happiness is a part of both definitions, the interpretation of both terms could lead to researchers to making assumptions about happiness that actually do not exist.

Further research Edit

Studies have shown that Western and Eastern cultures have distinct differences in emotional expressions with respect to hemi-facial asymmetry Eastern population showed bias to the right hemi-facial for positive emotions, while the Western group showed left hemi-facial bias to both negative and positive emotions. [42]

Recently, the valence and arousal of the twelve most popular emotion keywords expressed on the micro-blogging site Twitter were measured using latent semantic clustering in three geographical regions: Europe, Asia and North America. It was demonstrated that the valence and arousal levels of the same emotion keywords differ significantly with respect to these geographical regions — Europeans are, or at least present themselves as more positive and aroused, North Americans are more negative and Asians appear to be more positive but less aroused when compared to global valence and arousal levels of the same emotion keywords. [43] This shows that emotional differences between Western and Eastern cultures can, to some extent, be inferred through their language style.

Conclusion Edit

Culture affects every aspect of emotions. Identifying which emotions are good or bad, when emotions are appropriate to be expressed, and even how they should be displayed are all influenced by culture. Even more importantly, cultures differently affect emotions, meaning that exploring cultural contexts is key to understanding emotions. Through incorporating sociological, anthropological, and psychological research accounts it can be concluded that exploring emotions in different cultures is very complex and the current literature is equally as complex, reflecting multiple views and the hypothesis.


PSYCHOLOGY UNIT 4

Anderson really wants a chocolate doughnut from a popular coffee shop. He has been thinking about this particular food all day. He bought four doughnuts, but after eating one of them, he didn't want chocolate doughnuts anymore.

Which of the following best explains this phenomena?
Which of the following best explains this phenomena?

Anderson really wants a chocolate doughnut from a popular coffee shop. He has been thinking about this particular food all day. He bought four doughnuts, but after eating one of them he didn't want chocolate doughnuts anymore.

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Edith tends to want to do something only if there a tangible reward that results. She will not play sports unless she feels that she has a chance at being the best. Once she has earned the B she wants in school, she in uninterested in completing more work for her class.

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Ginny lives in an unsafe neighborhood and walks to school with the threat of being approached by drug dealers. She becomes more frightened every day and wishes to find a different route to school.

Based on this information, Abraham Maslow would claim that Ginny is likely to be preoccupied with her need for __________.

Rupert is obsessed with being famous. He tries out for every local play and is excited with the idea of being recognized by others.

Based on this information, Abraham Maslow would claim that Rupert is likely preoccupied with his need for __________.

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Brian longs to play with the other children in his class, but they don't seem to want to play with him. He spends most recesses playing alone in the sandbox, wishing a classmate would join him.

Based on this information, Abraham Maslow would claim that Brian is likely preoccupied with his need for __________.

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Hallie is reading a novel in the library when Susan, her best friend, slumps down in a chair next to her. Susan doesn't say anything, but Hallie knows that Susan is upset because she is slumping in her seat and rolling her eyes.
A psychologist would explain that Hallie is interpreting her friend's emotion based on __________.

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

After a long day of being nice to impolite customers at the restaurant where she works, Marisa comes home and unwinds by playing several hours of a violent video game. When she is finished playing, she feels a little better about all of the times she had to endure the rudeness of her customers and couldn't say what she was thinking.

A psychologist would say that she enjoys the game because it acts as a __________.

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Vera was unable to sleep soundly due to the thoughts concerning discrepancies between her life values and career choices. Throughout the day at work, she found that she had to exert more effort to maintain concentration on her work. Despite her lack of concentration, however, Vera has been spending time reevaluating her priorities and acquiring new insights about her preferences as a result of her stress.

Based on this information, a psychologist would most likely conclude that Vera's stress is ___________.

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Karen has lived in the same neighborhood since she was born. Her parents informed her that they would be moving across the country for her dad's new job. Even though she is excited about living in a bigger house, Karen is feeling stressed by the idea of making new friends and learning her way around a new school.

According to the information given, Karen is most likely experiencing stress related to __________.


Cultural differences in perceiving and processing emotions: a holistic approach to person perception

East Asians tend towards holistic styles of thinking whereas Westerners generally think more analytically. Recent work has shown that Western participants perceive emotional expressions in a somewhat holistic manner, however. Specifically, Westerners interpret emotional facial expressions differently when presented with a body displaying a congruent versus incongruent emotional expression. Here, we examined how processing these face-body combinations varies according to cultural differences in thinking style. Consistent with their proclivity towards contextual focus, Japanese perceivers focused more on the body when judging the emotions of face-body composites. Moreover, in line with their greater tendency towards holistic perceptual processing, we found that pairing facial expressions of emotion with emotionally congruent bodies facilitated Japanese participants’ recognition of faces’ emotions to a greater degree than it did for Canadians. Similarly, incongruent face-body combinations impaired facial emotion recognition more for Japanese than Canadian participants. These findings extend work on cultural differences in emotion recognition from interpersonal to intrapersonal contexts with implications for intercultural understanding.

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Culture and Self-Expression

Heejung Kim is currently an associate professor at the department of psychology, UCSB. She received her first BA in French Literature from Ewha Womans’ University in Seoul, Korea, and her second BA in Psychology from the University of Southern California. She received her MA and PhD in Social Psychology from Stanford University in 2001. Her research interests are in cultural psychology, looking at how culture influences a range of psychological processes. Her research has been funded by multiple grants from the National Science Foundation as well as a grant from Social Science Research Council. She is the recipient of the 2001 Society of Experimental Social Psychology Dissertation Award and one of the most cited Assistant Professors in Social Psychology (Dialogue, Fall, 2007). She was also named one of the Revolutionary Minds in science by Seed Magazine (August, 2008).

If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter

Cultures differ in their values for speech as the expression of individuality. Speech and self-expression hold particular importance in individualistic cultures (e.g., European American cultures) (Bellah, Madsen, Sullivan, Swidler, & Tipton, 1985 Kim & Markus, 2002 Kim & Sherman, 2007). Whether it is a catch phrase in an advertisement or a song or a book title, the phrase “express yourself” is an ubiquitous inspiration and encouragement in the U.S. cultural context. Self-expression is a notion that is closely associated with a horde of positive concepts, such as freedom, creativity, style, courage, self-assurance, and even healing and spirituality. The freedom of speech symbolizes one’s ultimate freedom to be oneself. Thus, speech enjoys a special privilege in these cultural contexts, and the freedom of speech is one of the most important rights of individuals in the U.S.

In contrast, speech and self-expression do not hold the same degree of importance in the more collectivistic cultural contexts, such as East Asian contexts. Thoughtful and self-disciplined silence is often valued above speech and speech is practiced with relatively great caution because the potential negative social implications of speech are more salient in these cultures than in the U.S. (Kim & Markus, 2002 Markus, Kitayama, & Heiman, 1996). Thus, speech and self-expression are not commonly and routinely encouraged or emphasized in East Asian cultures (Kim & Markus, 2002 Kim & Sherman, 2007).

These different cultural assumptions and practices influence whether and how individuals express their thoughts and feelings, and in turn, how acts of expression affect psychological and biological outcomes for these cultural participants. In the present article, I will describe findings on these topics, focusing on two areas: the influence of speech on thought and the use and effects of social support.

Cultural Differences in the Effect of Verbalization on Cognitive Performance

Speech is especially important in the Western cultural context as a primary means to express and clarify one’s thoughts, as seen in examples such as the use of Socratic methods in teaching. In contrast, speech is not as valued in the Eastern cultural context. Rather, it is viewed as a distraction to thinking. Much research has examined these contrasting views in terms of cultural values (e.g., Azuma, 1986 Gudykunst, Gao, & Franklyn-Stokes, 1996 Marsella, 1993 Minami, 1994 Tobin, Wu, & Davidson, 1989). Building on these findings about values, my research has examined the effects of speech on psychological functioning and, in so doing, examined cultural influences on psychological processes, such as cognitive problem solving.

In the first set of studies (Kim, 2002), Asian American and European American participants were instructed to solve a number of problems from the Raven’s Progressive Matrices (Raven, 1941). They were randomly assigned either to a silence condition or to a verbalization condition in which they were to verbalize their thought processes during the problem solving task. The results of these studies show that verbalization of thought processes impairs cognitive performance among Asian Americans but not among European Americans. In other words, the actual effect of verbalization of thoughts is concordant with commonly shared cultural beliefs.

A large body of literature shows that there are meaningful differences between Westerners and Easterners in their dominant modes of thinking, with Westerners tending to engage in more analytic modes of thinking and Easterners tending to engage in more holistic modes of thinking (Nisbett, Peng, Choi, & Norenzayan, 2001 for a review). This difference has implications for how compatible one’s mode of thinking is with speech, as analytic thinking, characterized by linearity and logic, is more readily verbalizable than holistic thinking, characterized by circularity and assmption of change and contradiction of the nature. Consistent with this approach, a study (Kim, 2002, Study 3) found that the difference in the effect of verbalization on cognitive performance seems to be due to a cultural difference in the degree to which Asian Americans and European Americans rely on language in their thinking. An experimental manipulation to suppress internal articulation (i.e., saying the alphabet aloud repeatedly) interfered with the performance of European Americans, but not of Asian Americans. These results support the idea that European Americans engage in more verbal thinking, compared to Asian Americans. Verbalization of thoughts appears to be a more complicated task for Asian Americans who have to convert their non-verbal thoughts to words than for European Americans who merely need to vocalize the internal articulation.

Another set of follow-up studies (Kim, 2008) showed that these cultural differences in the degree of cognitive load imposed by verbalizing one’s thoughts during a cognitive task could lead to divergent experiences of biological stress. In particular, I conducted one study in which participants provided saliva samples for cortisol analysis along with the problem solving and silence/verbalization task described above. In this study, the task of talking led to significantly higher cortisol levels, a measure of biological stress response to the task, for Asian American participants than for European American participants.

These findings have important implications for education and health in light of the fact that practices in most U.S. institutions are based on Western cultural assumptions. High levels of stress and other problems may arise when institutional practices expect a particular cultural meaning of speech from people who do not share the same cultural meaning. By assuming one mode of expression or interaction as the only or superior mode, society could bring inadvertent but systematic advantages to the cultural majority (see Kim and Markus, 2002 for further discussion).

Culture and Social Support Seeking

Cultural differences related to self-expression have implications in a more interpersonal domain, namely social support seeking processes. Traditionally, support use has been thought of in terms of specific events during which one person seeks specific aid from another person in the context of a specific stressor via disclosure of stressful events and feelings. Research (Taylor, Sherman, Kim, Jarcho, Takagi & Dunagan, 2004) has found that this type of social support use involving direct interpersonal disclosure and support seeking is less common among Asians and Asian Americans than among European Americans. In these studies, individuals completed questionnaires about recently experienced stressors and how they had coped with them. A wide range of stressful situations, including social, academic, and health stressors have been examined in these studies. Across stressors and studies, consistent patterns have emerged. For individual coping strategies, such as planning, positive reframing, or active efforts to cope, there were no cultural differences in reported use or helpfulness. But for social coping strategies, there were consistent cultural differences. Asians/Asian Americans were significantly less likely to report drawing on social support for coping with stress than were European Americans. This difference can be explained by the fact that Asians/Asian Americans experience greater interpersonal concerns stemming from disclosing their problems. Asians/Asian Americans were more concerned than European Americans that seeking support would cause them to lose face, disrupt group harmony, and receive criticism from others, and these relationship concerns appear to have discouraged them from drawing social support from close others.

Indeed, follow-up research (Kim, Sherman, Ko & Taylor, 2006) found that European Americans’ willingness to seek support was unaffected by relationship priming, whereas Asian Americans were willing to seek support less when the relationship primed was closer to the self. That is, Asian Americans’ willingness to seek social support was lower when they were primed of ingroup goals than when they were primed of outgroup or personal goals, supporting the idea that their reluctance to seek support is due to the concern about disturbing existing social relationships. These findings underscore the importance of considering culturally divergent relationship patterns in examining the nature and effects of social support transactions.

In addition to investigating why people from different cultures diverge in their willingness to seek social support, my collaborators and I have been examining whether there are more culturally appropriate forms of social support use. Accordingly, we proposed a distinction between explicit and implicit forms of social support transaction. We define explicit social support as explicit sharing of one’s problems and feelings and implicit social support as enjoying the company of close others without disclosure of problems and feelings (Kim, Sherman, & Taylor, 2008 Taylor, Welch, Kim & Sherman, 2007). In one experiment, Asians/Asian American and European American participants were randomly assigned to either explicit social support salience condition (i.e., writing a letter to a close other about their stress) or implicit social support salience condition (i.e., writing about the important aspects of the group or close others) prior to going through an acute lab stressor of speech giving. Indeed, Asians/Asian Americans experienced lower distress and showed lower cortisol response to the task following priming of implicit social support than of explicit social support the reverse was true for European Americans.

These findings suggesting that explicit social support is particularly used and beneficial among those from individualistic cultures may have important implications for research on the mental health services provided for Asians/Asian Americans in the U.S., and in particular for understanding their underutilization of such services (e.g., Sue, Fujino, Hu, Takeuchi, & Zane, 1991). We suggest that the utilization of social services may be an extension of culturally specific patterns of disclosure and social relationship.

Our research raises the possibility that focusing on the explicit disclosure and discussion of one’s distress as the main form of support use may have exaggerated the “problem” regarding Asians/Asian Americans’ reluctance to solicit social support. When implicit forms of support were also considered, Asians and Asian Americans experienced similar benefits. Social coping is most effective when it takes the form that is congruent with the relationship expectations prevalent in a culture. In short, it appears that at least in the case of social support use, members of each group function in an adaptive way within their own cultural system.

Concluding Thoughts

Not everyone in a culture views the actions of speech and disclosure in a culturally normative way. Behavioral patterns differ as a function of individual experience, and of such factors as acculturation, type of relationships, personality, and participation in cultural sub-groups.

Nevertheless, the research described in the present article shows systematic variations in psychological and behavioral patterns by culture, and underscores the important influence of collectively shared meanings and practices. These studies aim to contextualize the act of expression and demonstrate cultural differences in the meaning of expression. Depending on the dominant assumptions and expectations of cultural systems, self-expression has different psychological, physical, and social impacts. These findings provide evidence of the psychological consequences of the foundational cultural views rooted in historical and institutional practices in particular cultures. Although our understanding of the nature of cultural differences and similarities in the effects of self-expression is still limited, the evidence is sufficient to provide a framework for future research on culture and divergent effects of expression. Findings from these studies, I hope, could provide an alternative way to theorize about the effect and role of verbalization in psychological processes.

Azuma, H. (1986). Why study child development in Japan? In H. Stevenson, H. Azuma, & K. Hakuta (Eds.). Child development and education in Japan (pp. 3-12) New York: Freeman.

Bellah, R. N., Madsen, R., Sullivan, W. M., Swidler, A., & Tipton, S. M. (1985). Habits of the heart: Individualism and commitment in American life. New York: Harper & Row.

Gudykunst, W. B., Gao, G. & Franklyn-Stokes, A. (1996). Self-monitoring and concern for social appropriateness in China and England. In J. Pandey, D. Sinha, & D. P. S. Bhawuk (Eds.), Asian contributions to cross-cultural psychology. New Delhi: Sage.

Kim, H. S. (2002). We talk, therefore we think? A cultural analysis of the effect of talking on thinking. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 828-842.

Kim, H. S. (2008). Culture and the cognitive and neuroendocrine responses to speech. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94, 32-47.

Kim, H. S. & Markus, H. R. (2002). Freedom of speech and freedom of silence: An analysis of talking as a cultural practice. In R. Shweder, M. Minow, & H. R. Markus (Eds.), Engaging cultural differences: The multicultural challenge in liberal democracies (pp. 432-452). New York: Russell-Sage Foundation.

Kim, H. S. & Sherman, D. K. (2007). “Express yourself”: Culture and the effect of self-expression on choice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 1-11.

Kim, H. S., Sherman, D. K., Ko, D., & Taylor, S. E. (2006). Pursuit of comfort and pursuit of harmony: Culture, relationships, and social support seeking. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 1595-1607.

Kim, H. S., Sherman, D. K., & Taylor, S. E. (2008). Culture and social support. American Psychologist, 63, 518-526.

Markus, H. R., Kitayama, S., & Heiman, R. J. (1996). Culture and “basic” psychological principles. In E. T. Higgins & A. W. Kruglanski (Eds.), Social psychology: Handbook of basic principles (pp. 857-913). New York: Guilford.

Marsella, A. J. (1993). “Counseling and psychotherapy with Japanese Americans: Cross-cultural considerations.” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 63(2), 200-208.

Minami, M. (1994). English and Japanese: A cross-cultural comparison of parental styles of narrative elicitation. Issues in Applied Linguistics, 5, 383-407.

Nisbett, R. E., Peng, K., Choi, I., & Norenzayan, A. (2001). “Culture and systems of thought: Holistic vs. analytic cognition.” Psychological Review, 108, 291-310.

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Sue, S., Fujino, D. C., Hu, L., Takeuchi, D. T. & Zane, N. W. S. (1991). Community mental health services for ethnic minority groups: A test of the cultural responsiveness hypothesis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 59, 533-540.

Taylor, S. E., Sherman, D. K., Kim, H. S., Jarcho, J., Takagi, K., & Dunagan, M. S. (2004). Culture and social support: Who seeks it and why? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 354-362.

Taylor, S. E., Welch, W., Kim, H. S., Sherman, D. K. (2007). Cultural differences in the impact of social support on psychological and biological stress responses. Psychological Science, 18, 831–837.

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In the eye of the beholder? Universality and cultural specificity in the expression and perception of emotion

Do members of different cultures express (or "encode") emotions in the same fashion? How well can members of distinct cultures recognize (or "decode") each other's emotion expressions? The question of cultural universality versus specificity in emotional expression has been a hot topic of debate for more than half a century, but, despite a sizeable amount of empirical research produced to date, no convincing answers have emerged. We suggest that this unsatisfactory state of affairs is due largely to a lack of concern with the precise mechanisms involved in emotion expression and perception, and propose to use a modified Brunswikian lens model as an appropriate framework for research in this area. On this basis we provide a comprehensive review of the existing literature and point to research paradigms that are likely to provide the evidence required to resolve the debate on universality vs. cultural specificity of emotional expression. Applying this fresh perspective, our analysis reveals that, given the paucity of pertinent data, no firm conclusions can be drawn on actual expression (encoding) patterns across cultures (although there appear to be more similarities than differences), but that there is compelling evidence for intercultural continuity in decoding, or recognition, ability. We also note a growing body of research on the notion of ingroup advantage due to expression "dialects," above and beyond the general encoding or decoding patterns. We furthermore suggest that these empirical patterns could be explained by both universality in the underlying mechanisms and cultural specificity in the input to, and the regulation of, these expression and perception mechanisms. Overall, more evidence is needed, both to further elucidate these mechanisms and to inventory the patterns of cultural effects. We strongly recommend using more solid conceptual and theoretical perspectives, as well as more ecologically valid approaches, in designing future studies in emotion expression and perception research.


5 Cultural Differences between East and West in Thinking and Perception

From education, the workplace, to relationships and families, in many of these examples the cultural differences are pretty wide-ranging.

Most of the cultural differences centre around two concepts:

    – favours the individual as an independent entity and encourages self-promotion and self-worth.
  • Collectivism – individuals are part of a group and the needs of the group come before the individual.

By and large, cultures in the West tend to be more individualistic whereas people from the East are more collectivist. These concepts are a running thread through many eastern and western cultural differences.

Here are five cultural differences in thinking and perception between the East and West.

5 Cultural Differences between East and West

1. The Individual

In Western society, the individual rules. And this has consequences for society, the workplace, family, even relationships. For example, in the West, we admire the ‘self-made man’. We value personal achievements over group efforts. We want validation for our own self-esteem but not for any particular group.

This can lead us to overestimate our own abilities or ‘self-inflation’. For instance, a whopping 94% of US professors rated themselves as ‘better than average’ when asked about their competence.

There’s an American saying:

‘The squeaky wheel gets the grease.’

In other words, whoever complains or makes the loudest noise will get the attention.

On the other hand, in the East, family and community are more important than the individual. Not to mention that there is little to no evidence of any tendency for self-inflation. In fact, people living in the East are more likely to underestimate their abilities, rather than seem over-confident. In Eastern society, it is considered extremely rude to brag about one’s abilities.

To demonstrate, an old Japanese proverb advises:

‘The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.’

This is the complete opposite of the American saying. In other words, you will be criticised if you make a fuss.

2. Family

Family plays an extremely important role in Eastern society. Particularly when it comes to living arrangements. In the West, it is a rite of passage for children to move out at a certain age. Getting your own place is a sign of independence. Whereas in the East, there is no need for children to leave the family home.

Asian people see living on your own as a choice as strange. This goes for elderly relatives as well. Family members care for their older generations in the East. Whereas in the West, we do not see caring for our elderly as a family responsibility.

In the East, married couples do not move out of the family home. In fact, a newly-married woman will go and live with her husband’s family. Newly-married Western couples usually live together before they get married. In the East, the emphasis is very much on family.

As a matter of fact, you’ll often find several generations living under the same roof. However, this also means that individuals living in the family home may have to compromise. Family come first in the East.

3. Love and Relationships

Westerners believe that there must be one special person in the world just for them. After all, as individuals we are special and only the best will do. Westerners will embark on an endless search for their perfect match. We want that one person that will make us whole. Love, in the West, means high emotions, a rollercoaster with huge ups and downs.

In the East, it’s a much more sedate affair. People trust that they’ll chance upon love through circumstance. They settle for a partner that they have a deep friendship with. This is their foundation in which love will grow. Easterners make a lasting commitment. They don’t give up when their relationship hits a rocky patch.

In the East, potential partners must have family approval. In fact, arranged marriages are a tradition that is alive and well in the East. This is virtually unheard of in the West.

4. Education

In the West, the focus is very much on individual achievement and fostering natural ability. Students are encouraged to think for themselves. Participation is key. Students are expected to challenge their lecturers. Tutors want to pique their student’s interest and get them curious about their subject. In Western schools, students are contributors to their own education. They are not merely recipients of an education. If a student fails, the school or institution is blamed.

On the contrary, in the East, every student is equal and has the same chance of academic success as the next student. Hard work is the way to attain success.

In addition, in Eastern schools, discipline can outweigh any academic problems the students might face. There are no other reasons for a student to fail. However, if they do, it’s certainly not the school’s fault. More likely it’s down to the parents or the student themselves.

5. The Workplace

Finally, the East and West differ in many ways when it comes to the workplace. In Western society, walk into an office and you are likely to see very separate designated spaces for workers. The manager has their own office. Other staff members are defined by the size and seclusion of their areas. In contrast, workers in the East enjoy a much more open-plan working environment. Here managers and senior staff mingle with ordinary workers.

In the West, forming relationships with your co-workers tends to take time and occurs over long periods. However, in the East, you are immediately treated like close family.

And as for networking, you might think that the East is way ahead of the West in terms of technology. This may be true, but they still like the old-fashioned use of business cards. Unlike the West, where we are more likely to pass on our email address.

These are just a few cultural differences between the East and West. If you know any more please do let us know!


Cultural differences in perceiving and processing emotions: a holistic approach to person perception

East Asians tend towards holistic styles of thinking whereas Westerners generally think more analytically. Recent work has shown that Western participants perceive emotional expressions in a somewhat holistic manner, however. Specifically, Westerners interpret emotional facial expressions differently when presented with a body displaying a congruent versus incongruent emotional expression. Here, we examined how processing these face-body combinations varies according to cultural differences in thinking style. Consistent with their proclivity towards contextual focus, Japanese perceivers focused more on the body when judging the emotions of face-body composites. Moreover, in line with their greater tendency towards holistic perceptual processing, we found that pairing facial expressions of emotion with emotionally congruent bodies facilitated Japanese participants’ recognition of faces’ emotions to a greater degree than it did for Canadians. Similarly, incongruent face-body combinations impaired facial emotion recognition more for Japanese than Canadian participants. These findings extend work on cultural differences in emotion recognition from interpersonal to intrapersonal contexts with implications for intercultural understanding.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


Contents

Research on the relationship between culture and emotions dates back to 1872 when Darwin [2] argued that emotions and the expression of emotions are universal. Since that time, the universality of the seven basic emotions [3] (i.e., happiness, sadness, anger, contempt, fear, disgust, and surprise) has ignited a discussion amongst psychologists, anthropologists, and sociologists. While emotions themselves are universal phenomena, they are always influenced by culture. How emotions are experienced, expressed, perceived, and regulated varies as a function of culturally normative behavior by the surrounding society. Therefore, it can be said that culture is a necessary framework for researchers to understand variations in emotions. [4]

In Darwin's opening chapter of The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, (1872/1998) Darwin considered the face to be the preeminent medium of emotional expression in humans, and capable of representing both major emotions and subtle variations within each one. Darwin's ideas about facial expressions and his reports of cultural differences became the foundation for ethological research strategies. Silvan Tomkins' (1962) Affect Theory [5] 1963 [6] ) built upon Darwin's research, arguing that facial expressions are biologically based, and universal manifestations of emotions. The research of Paul Ekman (1971) [7] and Carroll Izard (1971) [8] further explored the proposed universality of emotions, showing that the expression of emotions were recognized as communicating the same feelings in cultures found in Europe, North and South America, Asia, and Africa. Ekman (1971) [7] and Izard (1971) [8] both created sets of photographs displaying emotional expressions that were agreed upon by Americans. These photographs were then shown to people in other countries with the instructions to identify the emotion that best describes the face. The work of Ekman, and Izard, concluded that facial expressions were in fact universal, innate, and phylogenetically derived. Some theorists, including Darwin, even argued that "Emotion . is neuromuscular activity of the face". Many researchers since have criticized this belief and instead argue that emotions are much more complex than initially thought. In addition to pioneering research in psychology, ethnographic accounts of cultural differences in emotion began to emerge. Margaret Mead, a cultural anthropologist writes about unique emotional phenomena she experienced while living among a small village of 600 Samoans on the island of Ta'u in her book Coming of Age in Samoa. [9] Gregory Bateson, an English anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, and visual anthropologist used photography and film to document his time with the people of Bajoeng Gede in Bali. According to his work, cultural differences were very evident in how the Balinese mothers displayed muted emotional responses to their children when the child showed a climax of emotion. In displays of both love (affection) and anger (temper) Bateson's notes documented that mother and child interactions did not follow Western social norms. The fieldwork of anthropologist Jean Briggs [10] details her almost two year experience living with the Utku Inuit people in her book Never in Anger: Portrait of an Eskimo Family. Briggs lived as the daughter of an Utku family describing their society as particularly unique emotional control. She rarely observed expressions of anger or aggression and if it were expressed, it resulted in ostracism.

Scholars working on the history of emotions have provided some useful terms for discussing cultural emotion expression. Concerned with distinguishing a society's emotional values and emotional expressions from an individual's actual emotional experience, William Reddy has coined the term emotive. In The Making of Romantic Love, Reddy uses cultural counterpoints to give credence to his argument that romantic love is a 12th-century European construct, built in a response to the parochial view that sexual desire was immoral. Reddy suggests that the opposition of sexual ardor and true love was not present in either Heain Japan or the Indian kingdoms of Bengal and Orissa. [11] Indeed, these cultures did not share the view of sexual desire as a form of appetite, which Reddy suggests was widely disseminated by the Church. Sexuality and spirituality were not conceived in a way which separated lust from love: indeed, sex was often used as a medium of spiritual worship, emulating the divine love between Krishna and Rada. [11] Sexual desire and love were inextricable from one another. Reddy therefore argues that the emotion of romantic love was created in Europe in the 12th century, and was not present in other cultures at the time. [11]

Culture provides structure, guidelines, expectations, and rules to help people understand and interpret behaviors. Several ethnographic studies suggest there are cultural differences in social consequences, particularly when it comes to evaluating emotions. For example, as Jean Briggs described in the Utku Eskimo population, anger was rarely expressed, and in the rare occasion that it did occur, it resulted in social ostracism. These cultural expectations of emotions are sometimes referred to as display rules. Psychologists (Ekman & Friesen, 1969 [12] Izard, 1980 [13] Sarni, 1999 [14] ) believe that these rules are learned during a socialization process. Ekman and Friesen (1975) [15] have also suggested that these "unwritten codes" govern the manner in which emotions may be expressed, and that different rules may be internalized as a function of an individual's culture, gender or family background. Miyamoto & Ryff (2011) [16] used the term cultural scripts to refer to cultural norms that influence how people expect emotions to be regulated. Cultural scripts dictate how positive and negative emotions should be experienced and combined. Cultural scripts may also guide how people choose to regulate their emotions which ultimately influences an individual's emotional experience. For example, research suggests that in Western cultures, the dominant social script is to maximize positive emotions and minimize negative emotions. [17] In Eastern cultures, the dominant cultural script is grounded in "dialectical thinking" and seeking to find a middle way by experiencing a balance between positive and negative emotions. Because normative behaviors in these two cultures vary, it should also be expected that their cultural scripts would also vary. Tsai et al. (2007) [18] argues that not only do cultural factors influence ideal affect (i.e., the affective states that people ideally want to feel) but that the influence can be detected very early. Their research suggests that preschool aged children are socialized to learn ideal affect through cultural products such as children storybooks. They found that European American preschool children preferred excited (vs. calm) smiles and activities more and perceived an excited (vs. calm) smile as happier than Taiwanese Chinese preschoolers. This is consistent with American best sellers containing more excited and arousing content in their books than the Taiwanese best sellers. These findings suggest that cultural differences in which emotions are desirable or, ideal affect, become evident very early.

Culture and emotional experiences Edit

A cultural syndrome as defined by Triandis (1997) [19] is a "shared set of beliefs, attitudes, norms, values, and behavior organized around a central theme and found among speakers of one language, in one times period, and in one geographic region". Because cultures are shared experiences, there are obvious social implications for emotional expression and emotional experiences. For example, the social consequences of expressing or suppressing emotions will vary depending upon the situation and the individual. Hochschild (1983) [20] discussed the role of feeling rules, which are social norms that prescribe how people should feel at certain times (e.g. wedding day, at a funeral). These rules can be general (how people should express emotions in general) and also situational (events like birthdays). Culture also influences the ways emotions are experienced depending upon which emotions are valued in that specific culture. For example, happiness is generally considered a desirable emotion across cultures. In countries with more individualistic views such as America, happiness is viewed as infinite, attainable, and internally experienced. In collectivistic cultures such as Japan, emotions such as happiness are very relational, include a myriad of social and external factors, and reside in shared experiences with other people. Uchida, Townsend, Markus, & Bergseiker (2009) [21] suggest that Japanese contexts reflect a conjoint model meaning that emotions derive from multiple sources and involve assessing the relationship between others and the self. However, in American contexts, a disjoint model is demonstrated through emotions being experienced individually and through self-reflection. Their research suggests that when Americans are asked about emotions, they are more likely to have self-focused responses "I feel joy" whereas a Japanese typical reaction would reflect emotions between the self and others "I would like to share my happiness with others."

Emotions play a critical role in interpersonal relationships and how people relate to each other. Emotional exchanges can have serious social consequences that can result in either maintaining and enhancing positive relationships, or becoming a source of antagonism and discord (Fredrickson, 1998 [22] Gottman & Levenson, 1992) [23] ). Even though people may generally "want to feel better than worse" (Larsen, 2000), [24] ) how these emotions are regulated may differ across cultures. Research by Yuri Miyamoto suggests that cultural differences influence emotion regulation strategies. Research also indicates that different cultures socialize their children to regulate their emotions according to their own cultural norms. For example, ethnographic accounts suggest that American mothers think that it is important to focus on their children's successes while Chinese mothers think it is more important to provide discipline for their children. [25] To further support this theory, a laboratory experiment found that when children succeeded on a test, American mothers were more likely than Chinese mothers to provide positive feedback (e.g. "You're so smart!"), in comparison to Chinese mothers who provided more neutral or task relevant feedback (e.g. "Did you understand the questions or did you just guess?" Ng, Pomerantz, & Lam, 2007 [26] ). This shows how American mothers are more likely to "up-regulate" positive emotions by focusing on their children's success whereas Chinese mothers are more likely to "down-regulate" children's positive emotions by not focusing on their success. Americans see emotions as internal personal reactions emotions are about the self (Markus & Kityama, 1991 [27] ). In America, emotional expression is encouraged by parents and peers while suppression is often disapproved. Keeping emotions inside is viewed as being insincere as well as posing a risk to one's health and well being. [28] In Japanese cultures, however, emotions reflect relationships in addition to internal states. Some research even suggests that emotions that reflect the inner self cannot be separated from emotions that reflect the larger group. Therefore, unlike American culture, expression of emotions is often discouraged, and suppressing one's individual emotions to better fit in with the emotions of the group is looked at as mature and appropriate. [29]

Emotional perception and recognition Edit

The role of facial expressions in emotional communication is often debated. While Darwin believed the face was the most preeminent medium of emotion expression, more recent scientific work challenges that theory. Furthermore, research also suggests that cultural contexts behave as cues when people are trying to interpret facial expressions. In everyday life, information from people's environments influences their understanding of what a facial expression means. According to research by Masuda et al. (2008), [30] people can only attend to a small sample of the possible events in their complex and ever- changing environments, and increasing evidence suggests that people from different cultural backgrounds allocate their attention very differently. This means that different cultures may interpret the same social context in very different ways. Since Americans are viewed as individualistic, they should have no trouble inferring people's inner feelings from their facial expressions, whereas Japanese people may be more likely to look for contextual cues in order to better understand one's emotional state. Evidence of this phenomenon is found in comparisons of Eastern and Western artwork. In Western art there is a preoccupation with the face that does not exist in Eastern art. For example, in Western art the figure occupies a larger part of the frame and is clearly noticeably separated from the ground. In East Asian artwork, the central figure is significantly smaller and also appears to be more embedded in the background. [31] In a laboratory setting, Masuda et al. [30] also tested how sensitive both Americans and Japanese would be to social contexts by showing them pictures of cartoons that included an individual in the context of a group of four other people. They also varied the facial expressions of the central figure and group members. They found that American participants were more narrowly focused with judging the cartoon's emotional states than the Japanese participants were. In their recognition task they also observed that the Japanese participants paid more attention to the emotions of the background figures than Americans did.

Contemporary literature has traced the influence of culture on a variety of aspects of emotion, from emotional values to emotion regulation. Indeed, culture may be best understood as a channel through which emotions are molded and subsequently expressed. Indeed, this had been most extensively discussed in psychology by examining individualistic and collectivistic cultures.

The individualistic vs. collectivistic cultural paradigm has been widely used in the study of emotion psychology. Collectivistic cultures are said to promote the interdependence of individuals and the notion of social harmony. Indeed, Niedenthal suggests that: "The needs, wishes, and desires of the collectives in which individuals find themselves are emphasized, and the notion of individuality is minimized or even absent from the cultural model". [1] Individualistic cultures, however, promote individual autonomy and independence. Individual needs, wishes, and desires are emphasized and the possibility of personal attainment is encouraged. Collectivistic cultures include those of Asia and Latin America, whilst individualistic cultures include those of North America and Western Europe. North America, specifically, is seen to be the prototype of an individualistic culture. [1]

Research has shown that the collectivism vs. individualism paradigm informs cultural emotional expression. An influential paper by Markus & Kitayama, on the influence of culture on emotion, established that in more collectivistic cultures, emotions were conceived as relational to the group. [32] Thus, in collectivistic cultures, emotions are believed to occur between people, rather than within an individual. [32] When Japanese school students were asked about their emotions, they usually stated than an emotion comes from their outside social surroundings. [33] When asked about where the emotions they feel originate from, Japanese school students never referred to themselves first. [33] This suggests that Japanese people believe emotions exist within the environment, between individuals, in line with collectivistic values. [33] Individualistic cultures, however, conceive emotions as independent internal experiences, occurring within an individual. When American school students were asked about their emotions, they usually stated that they experienced emotions within themselves. [33] This suggests that Americans consider emotions as personal, experienced internally and independently. Markus & Kitayama purport that emotions like friendliness and shame - which promote interconnectedness - are predominant in Asian culture. Conversely, European-American cultures were shown to be predominated by individualistic emotions, such as pride or anger. [32]

Emotion suppression Edit

Collectivistic cultures are believed to be less likely to express emotions, in fear of upsetting social harmony. Miyahara, referencing a study conducted on Japanese interpersonal communication, purports that the Japanese "are low in self disclosure, both verbally and non-verbally. Most of these attributes are ascribed to the Japanese people's collectivistic orientations". [34] The study conducted showed that Japanese individuals have a relatively low expression of emotion. Niedenthal further suggests that: "Emotional moderation in general might be expected to be observed in collectivist cultures more than in individualistic cultures, since strong emotions and emotional expression could disrupt intra-group relations and smooth social functioning". [1]

Individualistic cultures are seen to express emotions more freely than collectivistic cultures. In a study comparing relationships among American and Japanese individuals, it was found that: "People in individualistic cultures are motivated to achieve closer relationships with a selected few, and are willing to clearly express negative emotions towards others". [35] Research by Butler et al., found that the social impact of emotion suppression is moderated by the specific culture. Whilst the suppression of emotion by those with European Americans values led to non-responsive reactions and hostility, individuals with bicultural Asian-American values were perceived as less hostile and more engaged when they suppressed their emotions. [36] Thus, individuals with Asian-American values were more skilled in emotional suppression than individuals with European-American values. The article explanation is that Asian-Americans may engage in habitual suppression more often as negative emotions are seen to cause social disharmony and thus contradict cultural values. [36]

Culture and emotion socialization Edit

Research undertaken in the socialization of children cross-culturally has shown how early cultural influences start to affect emotions. Studies have shown the importance of socializing children in order to imbue them with emotional competence. [37] Research by Friedlmeier et al., suggests children must be socialized in order to meet the emotional values and standards of their culture. [37] For instance, in dealing with negative emotions, American parents were more likely to encourage emotion expression in children, thus promoting autonomy and individualistic competence. [37] East Asian parents, however, attempted to minimize the experience of the negative emotion, by either distracting their child or trying to make their child suppress the emotion. This promotes relational competence and upholds the value of group harmony. [37] Children are thus socialized to regulate emotions in line with cultural values.

Further research has assessed the use of storybooks as a tool with which children can be socialized to the emotional values of their culture. [38] Taiwanese values promote ideal affect as a calm happiness, where American ideal affect is excited happiness. [38] Indeed, it was found that American preschoolers preferred excited smiles and perceived them as happier than Taiwanese children did, and these values were seen to be mirrored in storybook pictures. [38] Importantly, it was shown that across cultures, exposure to story books altered children's preferences. Thus, a child exposed to an exciting (versus calm) book, would alter their preference for excited (versus calm) activity. [38] This shows that children are largely malleable in their emotions, and suggests that it takes a period of time for cultural values to become ingrained.

Another study has shown that American culture values high arousal positive states such as excitement, over low arousal positive states such as calmness. [39] However, in Chinese culture low arousal positive states are preferable to high arousal positive states. The researchers provide a framework to explain this, suggesting that high arousal positive states are needed in order to influence someone else, where low arousal positive states are useful for adjusting to someone else. [39] This explanation is in line with the collectivism-individualism dichotomy: American values promote individual autonomy and personal achievement, where Asian values promote relational harmony. Emotion expression is consequently seen to be influenced largely by the culture in which a person has been socialized.

Culture of honor Edit

Nisbett & Cohen's 1996 study Culture of Honor examines the violent honor culture in the Southern states of the USA. The study attempts to address why the southern USA is more violent, with a higher homicide rate, than its northern counterpart. It is suggested that the higher rate of violence is due to the presence of a 'culture of honor' in the southern USA. [40] A series of experiments were designed to determine whether southerners got angrier than northerners when they were insulted. In one example, a participant was bumped into and insulted, and their subsequent facial expressions were coded. Southerners showed significantly more anger expressions. [40] Furthermore, researchers measured cortisol levels, which increase with stress and arousal, and testosterone levels, which increase when primed for aggression. In insulted southerners, cortisol and testosterone levels rose by 79% and 12% respectively, which was far more than in insulted northerners. [40] With their research, Nisbett & Cohen show that southern anger is expressed in a culturally specific manner.

One of the biggest challenges in cultural research and human emotions is the lack of diversity in samples. Currently, the research literature is dominated by comparisons between Western (usually American) and Eastern Asian (usually Japanese or Chinese) sample groups. This limits our understanding of how emotions vary and future studies should include more countries in their analyses. Another challenge outlined by Matsumoto (1990) [41] is that culture is ever changing and dynamic. Culture is not static. As the cultures continue to evolve it is necessary that research capture these changes. Identifying a culture as "collectivistic" or "individualistic" can provide a stable as well as inaccurate picture of what is really taking place. No one culture is purely collectivistic or individualistic and labeling a culture with these terms does not help account for the cultural differences that exist in emotions. As Matsumoto argues, a more contemporary view of cultural relations reveals that culture is more complex than previously thought. Translation is also a key issue whenever cultures that speak different languages are included in a study. Finding words to describe emotions that have comparable definitions in other languages can be very challenging. For example, happiness, which is considered one of the six basic emotions, in English has a very positive and exuberant meaning. In Hindi, Sukhi is a similar term however it refers to peace and happiness. Although happiness is a part of both definitions, the interpretation of both terms could lead to researchers to making assumptions about happiness that actually do not exist.

Further research Edit

Studies have shown that Western and Eastern cultures have distinct differences in emotional expressions with respect to hemi-facial asymmetry Eastern population showed bias to the right hemi-facial for positive emotions, while the Western group showed left hemi-facial bias to both negative and positive emotions. [42]

Recently, the valence and arousal of the twelve most popular emotion keywords expressed on the micro-blogging site Twitter were measured using latent semantic clustering in three geographical regions: Europe, Asia and North America. It was demonstrated that the valence and arousal levels of the same emotion keywords differ significantly with respect to these geographical regions — Europeans are, or at least present themselves as more positive and aroused, North Americans are more negative and Asians appear to be more positive but less aroused when compared to global valence and arousal levels of the same emotion keywords. [43] This shows that emotional differences between Western and Eastern cultures can, to some extent, be inferred through their language style.

Conclusion Edit

Culture affects every aspect of emotions. Identifying which emotions are good or bad, when emotions are appropriate to be expressed, and even how they should be displayed are all influenced by culture. Even more importantly, cultures differently affect emotions, meaning that exploring cultural contexts is key to understanding emotions. Through incorporating sociological, anthropological, and psychological research accounts it can be concluded that exploring emotions in different cultures is very complex and the current literature is equally as complex, reflecting multiple views and the hypothesis.


Cultural Differences in Body Language to be Aware of

Body language makes up the largest part of our non-verbal communication - eye contact, gestures, and facial expressions can convey powerful messages. As William Shakespeare said in Troilus and Cressida - ‘There’s language in her eye, her cheek, her lip’.

However, there are substantial cultural differences in how people use body language to communicate. Sometimes it is very obvious, many times very subtle.

Whether in a culturally diverse company or visiting emerging markets, understanding what people mean through their body language can be a challenge.

Greetings with a handshake

Even the simple handshake can vary from culture to culture. A handshake is widely accepted as the norm, however you’ll need to vary the firmness depending on the location. Western culture typically perceives a strong handshake as authoritative and confidence, where as many parts of the Far East perceive a strong handshake as aggressive, and usually bow instead.

In parts of Northern Europe, a quick firm handshake is the norm. In parts of Southern Europe, Central and South America, a handshake is longer and warmer, with the left hand usually touching the clasped hands or elbow. Beware that in Turkey, a firm handshake is considered rude and aggressive. In certain African countries, a limp handshake is the standard (Guide to African handshakes). Men in Islamic countries never shake the hands of women outside the family.

Facial expressions

Many facial expressions appear to be universal and recognised all over the globe.

Research carried out by the Paul Ekman Group, an American Psychologist, showed that over 90% of common facial expressions were identified by people in very different cultures. Over 10,000 facial expressions were created for the study and shown to different western cultures and isolated, pre-literate African groups.

In general, there are seven different facial expressions which correspond to distinct universal facial emotions:

  • Happiness - Raising and lowering of mouth corners, cheeks raised, and muscles around the eyes are tightened.
  • Sadness - lowering of mouth corners and raising inner portion of brows.
  • Surprise - Arching of eyebrows, eyelids pulled up and sclera exposed, mouth open.
  • Fear - Brows arched and pulled together, eyes wide open, mouth slightly open.
  • Disgust - Eyebrows lowered, upper lip raised, nose wrinkled, cheeks raised.
  • Anger - Brows lowered, eyes bulging, lips pressed firmly.

Hand gestures

We use gestures as a way to emphasis points and illustrate what we are saying.

Hand gestures can mean very different things in different cultures the ‘OK’ sign in Greece, Spain or Brazil means you are calling someone an a**hole. In Turkey, it’s meant to be an insult towards gay people.

A thumbs up in America and European cultures is an indicator of a job well done, however in Greece or the Middle East, it can mean ‘up yours’

Curling the index finger with the palm facing up is a common gesture that people in United States and parts of Europe use to beckon someone to come closer. However, it is considered rude in China, East Asia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, and many other parts of the world. It’s also considered extremely impolite to use this gesture with people. It is used only to beckon dogs in many Asian countries - and using it in the Philippines can get you arrested.

On Inauguration Day 2005, President George W. Bush raised his fist, with the index and little finger extended, in the shape of the Texas Longhorn football team logo. Newspapers around the world expressed their astonishment at the use of such a gesture. In many Mediterranean and Latin countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Spain, Italy and Portugal, to make this sign at someone is to tell them that their spouse is cheating on them.

Eye contact

In most western countries, eye contact is a sign of confidence and attentiveness. We tend to assume that if someone looks away while we are talking to them, they’re disinterested and looking for someone else to talk to.

In many Middle Eastern countries, same-gender eye contact tends to be more sustained and intense than the western standard. In some of these countries, eye contact beyond a brief glance between the sexes is deemed inappropriate.

In many Asian, African, and Latin American countries, however, this unbroken eye contact would be considered aggressive and confrontational. These cultures tend to be quite conscious of hierarchy, and avoiding eye contact is a sign of respect for bosses and elders.

In these parts of the world, children won’t look at an adult who is speaking to them, and nor will employees to their bosses.

Eye contact variation by culture:

  • Used a lot in regions such as the Middle East, Mediterranean cultures, Europeans and Latin Americans.
  • Used often in much of Northern Europe and North America
  • Used somewhat carefully in cultures in Africa, Middle East, Korea and Thailand
  • Used carefully in most of the Far East

Moving your head

In some parts of India, people tilt their head from side to side to confirm something and demonstrate that they are actively listening. The side to side head movement originates from British occupation, as the occupied Indian people were afraid to ever gesture ‘no’ to soldiers but wanted to show signs of understanding.

A video decoding Indian headshakes went viral, attracting over a million hits in a week.

Touch

Northern Europe and the Far East as classed as non-contact cultures. There is very little physical contact beyond a handshake with people we don’t know well. Even accidentally brushing someone’s arm on the street warrants an apology.

An innocent hug made headlines around the world in 2009 when America's first lady, Michelle Obama, broke royal protocol on a visit to Britain by hugging the Queen.

By comparison, in the high-contact cultures of the Middle East, Latin America, and southern Europe, physical touch is a big part of socialising.

In much of the Arab world, men hold hands and kiss each other in greeting, but would never do the same with a woman.

In Thailand and Laos, it is taboo to touch anyone’s head, even children. In South Korea, elders can touch younger people with force when trying to get through a crowd, but younger people can’t do the same.

Physical contact variation by culture:

  • High Contact cultures tend to stand close when speaking and make physical contact more often. Latin America, Southern Europe and most Middle Eastern nations are examples.
  • Medium Contact cultures stand quite close when speaking and will touch on occasion. Such cultures include Northern Europe and North America.
  • Low Contact cultures stand at a greater distance and generally avoid physical contact. The Far East is an example.

These rules are usually quite complex. They may differ depending on the age, gender, ethnicity, profession and status of the people involved.

Sitting positions

Be aware of your posture when you attend meetings or are dining. Sitting cross-legged is seen as disrespectful in Japan, especially in the presence of someone older or more respected than you.

Showing the soles of your shoes or feet can offend people in parts of the Middle East and India. That is why throwing shoes at someone is a form of protest and an insult in many parts of the world - as former U.S. President George W. Bush famously discovered on a visit to Iraq in 2008.

Silence

Though it can feel like a void in communication, silence can be very meaningful in different cultural contexts. Western cultures, especially North America and the UK, tend to view silence as problematic. In our interactions at work, school, or with friends, silence is uncomfortable. It is often perceived as a sign of inattentiveness or disinterest.

In other cultures, however, silence is not viewed as a negative circumstance. In China, silence can be used to show agreement and receptiveness. In many aboriginal cultures, a question will be answered only after a period of contemplative silence. In Japan, silence from women can be considered an expression of femininity.

Gender

In many cultures, what is acceptable for a man may not be acceptable for a woman. The most obvious example is the issue of covering your head in some Muslim countries but also, within religions such as Islam and Hinduism, shaking a woman's hand can be considered offensive.

Conclusion

Modern transportation and an increase in expendable income allow us to visit a huge range of cultures. We’ve discussed how gestures, eye contact, greetings and physical contact can have very different meanings in different countries and cultures so you’ll want to learn as much as you can about the country's etiquette, values and styles of communication before you visit.

Being able to understand cultural differences will improve your working relationships and potentially make you more successful in an increasingly globalized, multi-cultural working world.


Effects on Behavior

The effect that culture has on individual behavior is a major topic of interest in the field of cross-cultural psychology. Cross-cultural psychologists study how different cultural factors influence individual behavior. They often focus on things that are universal among different cultures of the world, as well as differences among societies.

One interesting phenomenon that cross-cultural psychologists have observed is how people from individualist cultures describe themselves compared to how those from collectivist cultures describe themselves.

People from individualist societies have self-concepts that are more focused on independence rather than interdependence. As a result, they tend to describe themselves in terms of their unique personal characteristics and traits.

A person from an individualistic culture might say "I am analytical, sarcastic, and athletic." This can be contrasted with self-descriptions from people living in collectivist societies, who would be more likely to say something like, "I am a good husband and loyal friend."

Just how much do these self-descriptions vary depending upon culture? Research conducted by Ma and Schoenemann found that while 60% of Kenyans (a collectivist culture) described themselves in terms of their roles within groups while 48% of Americans (an individualist culture) used personal characteristics to describe themselves.  


Culture Is Key To Interpreting Facial Emotions

Research has uncovered that culture is a determining factor when interpreting facial emotions. The study reveals that in cultures where emotional control is the standard, such as Japan, focus is placed on the eyes to interpret emotions. Whereas in cultures where emotion is openly expressed, such as the United States, the focus is on the mouth to interpret emotion.

Across two studies, using computerized icons and human images, the researchers compared how Japanese and American cultures interpreted images, which conveyed a range of emotions.

"These findings go against the popular theory that the facial expressions of basic emotions can be universally recognized," said University of Alberta researcher Dr. Takahiko Masuda. "A person's culture plays a very strong role in determining how they will perceive emotions and needs to be considered when interpreting facial expression"

These cultural differences are even noticeable in computer emoticons, which are used to convey a writer's emotions over email and text messaging. Consistent with the research findings, the Japanese emoticons for happiness and sadness vary in terms of how the eyes are depicted, while American emoticons vary with the direction of the mouth. In the United States the emoticons : ) and : - ) denote a happy face, whereas the emoticons :( or : - ( denote a sad face. However, Japanese tend to use the symbol (^_^) to indicate a happy face, and (_) to indicate a sad face.

When participants were asked to rate the perceived levels of happiness or sadness expressed through the different computer emoticons, the researchers found that the Japanese still looked to the eyes of the emoticons to determine its emotion.

"We think it is quite interesting and appropriate that a culture that tends to masks its emotions, such as Japan, would focus on a person's eyes when determining emotion, as eyes tend to be quite subtle," said Masuda. "In the United States, where overt emotion is quite common, it makes sense to focus on the mouth, which is the most expressive feature on a person's face."

These findings are published in the current issue of The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology and are a result from a collaborative study between Masaki Yuki (Hokkaido University), William Maddux (INSEAD) and Takahiko Masuda (University of Alberta). The results also suggest the interesting possibility that the Japanese may be better than Americans at detecting "false smiles". If the position of the eyes is the key to whether someone's smile is false or true, Japanese may be particularly good at detecting whether someone is lying or being "fake". However, these questions can only be answered with future research.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Alberta. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Perception of emotion is culture-specific

Want to know how a Japanese person is feeling? Pay attention to the tone of his voice, not his face. That&rsquos what other Japanese people would do, anyway. A new study examines how Dutch and Japanese people assess others&rsquo emotions and finds that Dutch people pay attention to the facial expression more than Japanese people do.

&ldquoAs humans are social animals, it&rsquos important for humans to understand the emotional state of other people to maintain good relationships,&rdquo says Akihiro Tanaka of Waseda Institute for Advanced Study in Japan. &ldquoWhen a man is smiling, probably he is happy, and when he is crying, probably he&rsquos sad.&rdquo Most of the research on understanding the emotional state of others has been done on facial expression Tanaka and his colleagues in Japan and the Netherlands wanted to know how vocal tone and facial expressions work together to give you a sense of someone else&rsquos emotion.

For the study, Tanaka and colleagues made a video of actors saying a phrase with a neutral meaning&mdash&ldquoIs that so?&rdquo&mdashtwo ways: angrily and happily. This was done in both Japanese and Dutch. Then they edited the videos so that they also had recordings of someone saying the phrase angrily but with a happy face, and happily with an angry face. Volunteers watched the videos in their native language and in the other language and were asked whether the person was happy or angry. They found that Japanese participants paid attention to the voice more than Dutch people did&mdasheven when they were instructed to judge the emotion by the faces and to ignore the voice. The results are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

This makes sense if you look at the differences between the way Dutch and Japanese people communicate, Tanaka speculates. &ldquoI think Japanese people tend to hide their negative emotions by smiling, but it&rsquos more difficult to hide negative emotions in the voice.&rdquo Therefore, Japanese people may be used to listening for emotional cues. This could lead to confusion when a Dutch person, who is used to the voice and the face matching, talks with a Japanese person they may see a smiling face and think everything is fine, while failing to notice the upset tone in the voice. &ldquoOur findings can contribute to better communication between different cultures,&rdquo Tanaka says.


5 Cultural Differences between East and West in Thinking and Perception

From education, the workplace, to relationships and families, in many of these examples the cultural differences are pretty wide-ranging.

Most of the cultural differences centre around two concepts:

    – favours the individual as an independent entity and encourages self-promotion and self-worth.
  • Collectivism – individuals are part of a group and the needs of the group come before the individual.

By and large, cultures in the West tend to be more individualistic whereas people from the East are more collectivist. These concepts are a running thread through many eastern and western cultural differences.

Here are five cultural differences in thinking and perception between the East and West.

5 Cultural Differences between East and West

1. The Individual

In Western society, the individual rules. And this has consequences for society, the workplace, family, even relationships. For example, in the West, we admire the ‘self-made man’. We value personal achievements over group efforts. We want validation for our own self-esteem but not for any particular group.

This can lead us to overestimate our own abilities or ‘self-inflation’. For instance, a whopping 94% of US professors rated themselves as ‘better than average’ when asked about their competence.

There’s an American saying:

‘The squeaky wheel gets the grease.’

In other words, whoever complains or makes the loudest noise will get the attention.

On the other hand, in the East, family and community are more important than the individual. Not to mention that there is little to no evidence of any tendency for self-inflation. In fact, people living in the East are more likely to underestimate their abilities, rather than seem over-confident. In Eastern society, it is considered extremely rude to brag about one’s abilities.

To demonstrate, an old Japanese proverb advises:

‘The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.’

This is the complete opposite of the American saying. In other words, you will be criticised if you make a fuss.

2. Family

Family plays an extremely important role in Eastern society. Particularly when it comes to living arrangements. In the West, it is a rite of passage for children to move out at a certain age. Getting your own place is a sign of independence. Whereas in the East, there is no need for children to leave the family home.

Asian people see living on your own as a choice as strange. This goes for elderly relatives as well. Family members care for their older generations in the East. Whereas in the West, we do not see caring for our elderly as a family responsibility.

In the East, married couples do not move out of the family home. In fact, a newly-married woman will go and live with her husband’s family. Newly-married Western couples usually live together before they get married. In the East, the emphasis is very much on family.

As a matter of fact, you’ll often find several generations living under the same roof. However, this also means that individuals living in the family home may have to compromise. Family come first in the East.

3. Love and Relationships

Westerners believe that there must be one special person in the world just for them. After all, as individuals we are special and only the best will do. Westerners will embark on an endless search for their perfect match. We want that one person that will make us whole. Love, in the West, means high emotions, a rollercoaster with huge ups and downs.

In the East, it’s a much more sedate affair. People trust that they’ll chance upon love through circumstance. They settle for a partner that they have a deep friendship with. This is their foundation in which love will grow. Easterners make a lasting commitment. They don’t give up when their relationship hits a rocky patch.

In the East, potential partners must have family approval. In fact, arranged marriages are a tradition that is alive and well in the East. This is virtually unheard of in the West.

4. Education

In the West, the focus is very much on individual achievement and fostering natural ability. Students are encouraged to think for themselves. Participation is key. Students are expected to challenge their lecturers. Tutors want to pique their student’s interest and get them curious about their subject. In Western schools, students are contributors to their own education. They are not merely recipients of an education. If a student fails, the school or institution is blamed.

On the contrary, in the East, every student is equal and has the same chance of academic success as the next student. Hard work is the way to attain success.

In addition, in Eastern schools, discipline can outweigh any academic problems the students might face. There are no other reasons for a student to fail. However, if they do, it’s certainly not the school’s fault. More likely it’s down to the parents or the student themselves.

5. The Workplace

Finally, the East and West differ in many ways when it comes to the workplace. In Western society, walk into an office and you are likely to see very separate designated spaces for workers. The manager has their own office. Other staff members are defined by the size and seclusion of their areas. In contrast, workers in the East enjoy a much more open-plan working environment. Here managers and senior staff mingle with ordinary workers.

In the West, forming relationships with your co-workers tends to take time and occurs over long periods. However, in the East, you are immediately treated like close family.

And as for networking, you might think that the East is way ahead of the West in terms of technology. This may be true, but they still like the old-fashioned use of business cards. Unlike the West, where we are more likely to pass on our email address.

These are just a few cultural differences between the East and West. If you know any more please do let us know!


In the eye of the beholder? Universality and cultural specificity in the expression and perception of emotion

Do members of different cultures express (or "encode") emotions in the same fashion? How well can members of distinct cultures recognize (or "decode") each other's emotion expressions? The question of cultural universality versus specificity in emotional expression has been a hot topic of debate for more than half a century, but, despite a sizeable amount of empirical research produced to date, no convincing answers have emerged. We suggest that this unsatisfactory state of affairs is due largely to a lack of concern with the precise mechanisms involved in emotion expression and perception, and propose to use a modified Brunswikian lens model as an appropriate framework for research in this area. On this basis we provide a comprehensive review of the existing literature and point to research paradigms that are likely to provide the evidence required to resolve the debate on universality vs. cultural specificity of emotional expression. Applying this fresh perspective, our analysis reveals that, given the paucity of pertinent data, no firm conclusions can be drawn on actual expression (encoding) patterns across cultures (although there appear to be more similarities than differences), but that there is compelling evidence for intercultural continuity in decoding, or recognition, ability. We also note a growing body of research on the notion of ingroup advantage due to expression "dialects," above and beyond the general encoding or decoding patterns. We furthermore suggest that these empirical patterns could be explained by both universality in the underlying mechanisms and cultural specificity in the input to, and the regulation of, these expression and perception mechanisms. Overall, more evidence is needed, both to further elucidate these mechanisms and to inventory the patterns of cultural effects. We strongly recommend using more solid conceptual and theoretical perspectives, as well as more ecologically valid approaches, in designing future studies in emotion expression and perception research.


Culture and Self-Expression

Heejung Kim is currently an associate professor at the department of psychology, UCSB. She received her first BA in French Literature from Ewha Womans’ University in Seoul, Korea, and her second BA in Psychology from the University of Southern California. She received her MA and PhD in Social Psychology from Stanford University in 2001. Her research interests are in cultural psychology, looking at how culture influences a range of psychological processes. Her research has been funded by multiple grants from the National Science Foundation as well as a grant from Social Science Research Council. She is the recipient of the 2001 Society of Experimental Social Psychology Dissertation Award and one of the most cited Assistant Professors in Social Psychology (Dialogue, Fall, 2007). She was also named one of the Revolutionary Minds in science by Seed Magazine (August, 2008).

If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter

Cultures differ in their values for speech as the expression of individuality. Speech and self-expression hold particular importance in individualistic cultures (e.g., European American cultures) (Bellah, Madsen, Sullivan, Swidler, & Tipton, 1985 Kim & Markus, 2002 Kim & Sherman, 2007). Whether it is a catch phrase in an advertisement or a song or a book title, the phrase “express yourself” is an ubiquitous inspiration and encouragement in the U.S. cultural context. Self-expression is a notion that is closely associated with a horde of positive concepts, such as freedom, creativity, style, courage, self-assurance, and even healing and spirituality. The freedom of speech symbolizes one’s ultimate freedom to be oneself. Thus, speech enjoys a special privilege in these cultural contexts, and the freedom of speech is one of the most important rights of individuals in the U.S.

In contrast, speech and self-expression do not hold the same degree of importance in the more collectivistic cultural contexts, such as East Asian contexts. Thoughtful and self-disciplined silence is often valued above speech and speech is practiced with relatively great caution because the potential negative social implications of speech are more salient in these cultures than in the U.S. (Kim & Markus, 2002 Markus, Kitayama, & Heiman, 1996). Thus, speech and self-expression are not commonly and routinely encouraged or emphasized in East Asian cultures (Kim & Markus, 2002 Kim & Sherman, 2007).

These different cultural assumptions and practices influence whether and how individuals express their thoughts and feelings, and in turn, how acts of expression affect psychological and biological outcomes for these cultural participants. In the present article, I will describe findings on these topics, focusing on two areas: the influence of speech on thought and the use and effects of social support.

Cultural Differences in the Effect of Verbalization on Cognitive Performance

Speech is especially important in the Western cultural context as a primary means to express and clarify one’s thoughts, as seen in examples such as the use of Socratic methods in teaching. In contrast, speech is not as valued in the Eastern cultural context. Rather, it is viewed as a distraction to thinking. Much research has examined these contrasting views in terms of cultural values (e.g., Azuma, 1986 Gudykunst, Gao, & Franklyn-Stokes, 1996 Marsella, 1993 Minami, 1994 Tobin, Wu, & Davidson, 1989). Building on these findings about values, my research has examined the effects of speech on psychological functioning and, in so doing, examined cultural influences on psychological processes, such as cognitive problem solving.

In the first set of studies (Kim, 2002), Asian American and European American participants were instructed to solve a number of problems from the Raven’s Progressive Matrices (Raven, 1941). They were randomly assigned either to a silence condition or to a verbalization condition in which they were to verbalize their thought processes during the problem solving task. The results of these studies show that verbalization of thought processes impairs cognitive performance among Asian Americans but not among European Americans. In other words, the actual effect of verbalization of thoughts is concordant with commonly shared cultural beliefs.

A large body of literature shows that there are meaningful differences between Westerners and Easterners in their dominant modes of thinking, with Westerners tending to engage in more analytic modes of thinking and Easterners tending to engage in more holistic modes of thinking (Nisbett, Peng, Choi, & Norenzayan, 2001 for a review). This difference has implications for how compatible one’s mode of thinking is with speech, as analytic thinking, characterized by linearity and logic, is more readily verbalizable than holistic thinking, characterized by circularity and assmption of change and contradiction of the nature. Consistent with this approach, a study (Kim, 2002, Study 3) found that the difference in the effect of verbalization on cognitive performance seems to be due to a cultural difference in the degree to which Asian Americans and European Americans rely on language in their thinking. An experimental manipulation to suppress internal articulation (i.e., saying the alphabet aloud repeatedly) interfered with the performance of European Americans, but not of Asian Americans. These results support the idea that European Americans engage in more verbal thinking, compared to Asian Americans. Verbalization of thoughts appears to be a more complicated task for Asian Americans who have to convert their non-verbal thoughts to words than for European Americans who merely need to vocalize the internal articulation.

Another set of follow-up studies (Kim, 2008) showed that these cultural differences in the degree of cognitive load imposed by verbalizing one’s thoughts during a cognitive task could lead to divergent experiences of biological stress. In particular, I conducted one study in which participants provided saliva samples for cortisol analysis along with the problem solving and silence/verbalization task described above. In this study, the task of talking led to significantly higher cortisol levels, a measure of biological stress response to the task, for Asian American participants than for European American participants.

These findings have important implications for education and health in light of the fact that practices in most U.S. institutions are based on Western cultural assumptions. High levels of stress and other problems may arise when institutional practices expect a particular cultural meaning of speech from people who do not share the same cultural meaning. By assuming one mode of expression or interaction as the only or superior mode, society could bring inadvertent but systematic advantages to the cultural majority (see Kim and Markus, 2002 for further discussion).

Culture and Social Support Seeking

Cultural differences related to self-expression have implications in a more interpersonal domain, namely social support seeking processes. Traditionally, support use has been thought of in terms of specific events during which one person seeks specific aid from another person in the context of a specific stressor via disclosure of stressful events and feelings. Research (Taylor, Sherman, Kim, Jarcho, Takagi & Dunagan, 2004) has found that this type of social support use involving direct interpersonal disclosure and support seeking is less common among Asians and Asian Americans than among European Americans. In these studies, individuals completed questionnaires about recently experienced stressors and how they had coped with them. A wide range of stressful situations, including social, academic, and health stressors have been examined in these studies. Across stressors and studies, consistent patterns have emerged. For individual coping strategies, such as planning, positive reframing, or active efforts to cope, there were no cultural differences in reported use or helpfulness. But for social coping strategies, there were consistent cultural differences. Asians/Asian Americans were significantly less likely to report drawing on social support for coping with stress than were European Americans. This difference can be explained by the fact that Asians/Asian Americans experience greater interpersonal concerns stemming from disclosing their problems. Asians/Asian Americans were more concerned than European Americans that seeking support would cause them to lose face, disrupt group harmony, and receive criticism from others, and these relationship concerns appear to have discouraged them from drawing social support from close others.

Indeed, follow-up research (Kim, Sherman, Ko & Taylor, 2006) found that European Americans’ willingness to seek support was unaffected by relationship priming, whereas Asian Americans were willing to seek support less when the relationship primed was closer to the self. That is, Asian Americans’ willingness to seek social support was lower when they were primed of ingroup goals than when they were primed of outgroup or personal goals, supporting the idea that their reluctance to seek support is due to the concern about disturbing existing social relationships. These findings underscore the importance of considering culturally divergent relationship patterns in examining the nature and effects of social support transactions.

In addition to investigating why people from different cultures diverge in their willingness to seek social support, my collaborators and I have been examining whether there are more culturally appropriate forms of social support use. Accordingly, we proposed a distinction between explicit and implicit forms of social support transaction. We define explicit social support as explicit sharing of one’s problems and feelings and implicit social support as enjoying the company of close others without disclosure of problems and feelings (Kim, Sherman, & Taylor, 2008 Taylor, Welch, Kim & Sherman, 2007). In one experiment, Asians/Asian American and European American participants were randomly assigned to either explicit social support salience condition (i.e., writing a letter to a close other about their stress) or implicit social support salience condition (i.e., writing about the important aspects of the group or close others) prior to going through an acute lab stressor of speech giving. Indeed, Asians/Asian Americans experienced lower distress and showed lower cortisol response to the task following priming of implicit social support than of explicit social support the reverse was true for European Americans.

These findings suggesting that explicit social support is particularly used and beneficial among those from individualistic cultures may have important implications for research on the mental health services provided for Asians/Asian Americans in the U.S., and in particular for understanding their underutilization of such services (e.g., Sue, Fujino, Hu, Takeuchi, & Zane, 1991). We suggest that the utilization of social services may be an extension of culturally specific patterns of disclosure and social relationship.

Our research raises the possibility that focusing on the explicit disclosure and discussion of one’s distress as the main form of support use may have exaggerated the “problem” regarding Asians/Asian Americans’ reluctance to solicit social support. When implicit forms of support were also considered, Asians and Asian Americans experienced similar benefits. Social coping is most effective when it takes the form that is congruent with the relationship expectations prevalent in a culture. In short, it appears that at least in the case of social support use, members of each group function in an adaptive way within their own cultural system.

Concluding Thoughts

Not everyone in a culture views the actions of speech and disclosure in a culturally normative way. Behavioral patterns differ as a function of individual experience, and of such factors as acculturation, type of relationships, personality, and participation in cultural sub-groups.

Nevertheless, the research described in the present article shows systematic variations in psychological and behavioral patterns by culture, and underscores the important influence of collectively shared meanings and practices. These studies aim to contextualize the act of expression and demonstrate cultural differences in the meaning of expression. Depending on the dominant assumptions and expectations of cultural systems, self-expression has different psychological, physical, and social impacts. These findings provide evidence of the psychological consequences of the foundational cultural views rooted in historical and institutional practices in particular cultures. Although our understanding of the nature of cultural differences and similarities in the effects of self-expression is still limited, the evidence is sufficient to provide a framework for future research on culture and divergent effects of expression. Findings from these studies, I hope, could provide an alternative way to theorize about the effect and role of verbalization in psychological processes.

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Kim, H. S. (2002). We talk, therefore we think? A cultural analysis of the effect of talking on thinking. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 828-842.

Kim, H. S. (2008). Culture and the cognitive and neuroendocrine responses to speech. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94, 32-47.

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Kim, H. S. & Sherman, D. K. (2007). “Express yourself”: Culture and the effect of self-expression on choice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 1-11.

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PSYCHOLOGY UNIT 4

Anderson really wants a chocolate doughnut from a popular coffee shop. He has been thinking about this particular food all day. He bought four doughnuts, but after eating one of them, he didn't want chocolate doughnuts anymore.

Which of the following best explains this phenomena?
Which of the following best explains this phenomena?

Anderson really wants a chocolate doughnut from a popular coffee shop. He has been thinking about this particular food all day. He bought four doughnuts, but after eating one of them he didn't want chocolate doughnuts anymore.

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Edith tends to want to do something only if there a tangible reward that results. She will not play sports unless she feels that she has a chance at being the best. Once she has earned the B she wants in school, she in uninterested in completing more work for her class.

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Ginny lives in an unsafe neighborhood and walks to school with the threat of being approached by drug dealers. She becomes more frightened every day and wishes to find a different route to school.

Based on this information, Abraham Maslow would claim that Ginny is likely to be preoccupied with her need for __________.

Rupert is obsessed with being famous. He tries out for every local play and is excited with the idea of being recognized by others.

Based on this information, Abraham Maslow would claim that Rupert is likely preoccupied with his need for __________.

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Brian longs to play with the other children in his class, but they don't seem to want to play with him. He spends most recesses playing alone in the sandbox, wishing a classmate would join him.

Based on this information, Abraham Maslow would claim that Brian is likely preoccupied with his need for __________.

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Hallie is reading a novel in the library when Susan, her best friend, slumps down in a chair next to her. Susan doesn't say anything, but Hallie knows that Susan is upset because she is slumping in her seat and rolling her eyes.
A psychologist would explain that Hallie is interpreting her friend's emotion based on __________.

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

After a long day of being nice to impolite customers at the restaurant where she works, Marisa comes home and unwinds by playing several hours of a violent video game. When she is finished playing, she feels a little better about all of the times she had to endure the rudeness of her customers and couldn't say what she was thinking.

A psychologist would say that she enjoys the game because it acts as a __________.

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Vera was unable to sleep soundly due to the thoughts concerning discrepancies between her life values and career choices. Throughout the day at work, she found that she had to exert more effort to maintain concentration on her work. Despite her lack of concentration, however, Vera has been spending time reevaluating her priorities and acquiring new insights about her preferences as a result of her stress.

Based on this information, a psychologist would most likely conclude that Vera's stress is ___________.

Please select the best answer from the choices provided

Karen has lived in the same neighborhood since she was born. Her parents informed her that they would be moving across the country for her dad's new job. Even though she is excited about living in a bigger house, Karen is feeling stressed by the idea of making new friends and learning her way around a new school.

According to the information given, Karen is most likely experiencing stress related to __________.


Watch the video: Everything you always wanted to know about culture. Saba Safdar. TEDxGuelphU (August 2022).