Culture Differences in Emotion

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Whether or not emotions are experienced consistently across different cultures has been researched for decades. On one side, psychologists who believe emotion is a universal construct view emotional experience as being biologically based. For example, Dr. Paul Ekman, an emotion psychologist, claims that emotions are genetically determined, meaning that facial expressions of emotions are interpreted the same way across most cultures. Dr. Nangyeon Lim, on the other hand, argues in the 2016 article Cultural differences in emotion: Differences in emotional arousal level between the East and the West that we should not dismiss the cultural component that influences emotions in a variety of ways. Studies show that emotions are not only biologically determined but also influenced by environmental, social, and/or cultural situations.

According to Lim, Eastern culture refers to that of East Asian countries like Korea, Japan, and China. Being connected to and interdependent on others is considered a valuable part of what makes up the cultures of these countries and is identified as collectivism. Those in collectivist cultures work to fit into the groups they are in by adjusting themselves as to not influence others. This explains why in Eastern culture it is more desirable to experience emotions that produce low arousal allowing them to conform to those within their group. The ideology is that causing conflict works against the harmony of the group. The emotions Lim lists as being low arousal include contented, at ease, relaxed, peaceful, depressed, sleepy, sad, miserable, etc.

Western culture, on the other hand, Lim explains, refers to the cultures of North American and Western European countries. These countries value the uniqueness of the individual, encouraging its members to express their feelings and influence those around them. Western culture, also known as individualist culture, hold emotions that incite high arousal as ideal for this reason. Lim lists high arousal emotions as enthusiastic, joyful, happy, excited, afraid, angry, irritated, hostile, etc.

There is a belief in Korean or Chinese medicine that humans experience seven emotions: joy, anger, sadness, pleasure, love, greed, and hatred. Those that believe this consider excessive emotional experiences to be harmful and to even go as far as causing diseases, even if they are experiencing positive emotions. Hwabyung, or “anger syndrome” is a disease frequently reported in Korean culture and is said to be the result of suppressing anger which is a high arousal emotion.

Cultures influence our ideal affect, or the way that ideally, we want to feel. This causes us to behave in certain ways so that we feel the emotion we believe we should be experiencing. Americans emphasize happiness as being an upbeat emotion, while the Chinese idea of happiness focuses on being solemn and reserved. Happiness, in this context, is a universal emotion experienced culturally.


Lim, N. (2016). Cultural differences in emotion: Differences in emotional arousal level between the East and the West. Integrative Medicine Research, 5, 105-109. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.imr.2016.03.004


 

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By Haley Falcon

Haley Falcon is a senior majoring in Psychology with minors in Human Development and History. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, she plans on using her degree to pursue new opportunities.

Losing Control: This Feels More Achievable

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We’ve spent the series so far talking about what it looks like when we lose control. Join us for our last rage of this special series on Losing Control where we are joined once again by anger and aggression researcher Dr. Brad Bushman. We take this episode to talk about what you can do when you feel like you’re losing your cool. More specifically, we share some advice on not only strategies to use to cool off, but also how anger can be prosocial.

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Losing Control: How Do You Become an Angry, Aggressive Person?

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When it comes to anger, is catharsis truly effective or does it just feel good? This week on All the Rage we look at the catharsis theory and talk about what role venting anger through options like rage rooms play in aggression. Dr. Brad Bushman joins us again to explain his research about what happens when we vent our anger.

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Facial Expressions and Personality Traits

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crabby_womanHaving a happy expression will make you appear more confident in your interactions. This is according to a 2018 study by Ueda and Yoshikawa that found a couple of key findings: First, people with angry facial expressions are seen as having a more dominant and aggressive personality. They are therefore seen as being able to dominate others by physical strength and behaviors. Meanwhile, those with happy expressions are seen as being more dominant than those expressing other emotions due to having a relatively higher social standing than others they are interacting with.

The study involved showing participants pictures of individuals expressing different emotions and participants were asked to rate those pictures based on perceived dominance  In the one person pictures, people with the angrier expressions were seen as more dominant.  Contrary to expectations, the results were different when participants were shown a picture of a two-person interaction. In the two-person interaction, the person who appeared happy was seen as being more dominant than the angry person.

The difference in how people evaluate dominance for individuals versus pairs shows that being more dominant in a social setting is not the result of appearing more ready to dominate others by physical strength and behaviors. Whether a person appears dominant through expressing angry or happy emotions may give insight into their potential behavior. People who appear angry may try to use physical strength and behaviors to obtain their goals. People who appear happy in an interaction, particularly during an argument, may be better able to hide their anger, which allows them to remain calm and appear confident. Their happiness could also imply that they are winning the argument. It is important for people to be able to distinguish between these two types of dominance so that they can understand how they appear in their interactions and so they can evaluate the personality and social standing of others, modifying their own behaviors accordingly.


Ueda, Y., & Yoshikawa, S. (2018). Beyond personality traits: Which facial expressions imply dominance in two-person interaction scenes? Emotion, 18(6), 872-885. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/emo0000286


Unknown-225x300by Torrey Lucido

Torrey is a junior majoring in Psychology at The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay with and emphasis in Brain, Behavior, and Health. After graduating she plans to earn a graduate degree in occupational therapy and work with patients with brain injury and developmental disabilities.

 

Losing Control: Over 30,00 Americans are Killed Every Year

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In this week’s episode, Ryan is joined by guest co-host Taylor Gulbrand, University of Wisconsin Green Bay senior. The two sit down to discuss road rage, their experience as the victim or perpetrator and what research has to say about it. We then hear an interview with Dr. Brad J. Bushman, Professor of Communication and Psychology and Margaret Hall and Robert Randal Rinehart Chair of Mass Communication, as he talks us through who is most likely to experience road rage and what some potential causes of aggressive driving are.

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Losing Control: It’s About Anger, Frustration, and Violence

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Gather ‘round! Ryan and Chuck start off this episode from the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts at UW-Green Bay with a LIVE segment about “mob violence,” then we hear from Dr. Kate Burns, a Psychology and Human Development professor and Associate Dean for the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences as she takes us through the psychology of groups. We finish this episode with an interview on mob violence with Dr. Lori H. Rosenthal, Associate Dean for the School of Humanities, Education, Justice, and Social Sciences, for Lasell College where she is also an Associate Professor of Psychology.

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Five Facts About… Curiosity?

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Doing something a little different today as I prepare for a talk on a very different emotion than I usually write about.  I’m about to speak to a group of high school teachers about the value of curiosity in the classroom, so I thought I would post some interesting curiosity facts to get started.

Here they are:

Losing Control: Apologize and We’ll Let it Go

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In this episode of All the Rage, Ryan and Chuck respond to a few infamous Youtube clips of people losing control. Part one of this special series on “losing control” will help us think about what losing control means, how and why some people lose their cool, and it’ll help us ask “are we REALLY ourselves when we’re mad.”

YouTube Clips Discussed in the Episode

 

 

Special Series on Losing Control: Trailer

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In this trailer for our special series on losing control, Ryan and Chuck provide a sneak peak at what you can expect over the next few months.

Focused on losing control, this series includes interviews with social psychologists, neuropsychologists, and other experts on what happens when people get really really angry. The first episode comes out on October 23, 2018.