• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does culture impact on the expression of emotion?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

How does culture impact on the expression of emotion? "Any emotion, if it is sincere, is involuntary" - Mark Twain. Mark Twain's famous words quoted above suggest that human emotions are expressed involuntarily, and that their expression is a universally inherent part of human nature. Whilst some psychologists maintain this, others propose that culture produces variations in the ways in which emotions are expressed throughout the world and that the "involuntary" nature of emotion is subject to cultural influence. The definition given by Answers.com, which states that emotion is "a mental state that arises spontaneously rather than through conscious effort, and is often accompanied by physiological changes", supports Twain's theory that humans cannot choose whether or not to express a particular emotion. However, this is not to say that culture is unable to influence these involuntary actions. It is this concept wherein lies the quandary for many psychologists. Hereafter I aim to outline the evidence provided by psychological studies for the expression of emotion in terms of universality and cultural impact, and to ultimately determine how culture impacts on the ways in which emotions are expressed. The universal nature of the expression of emotion The idea that humans throughout the world express their emotions in the same way has a biological basis. ...read more.

Middle

393). Although much of the evidence in support of universality has a biological basis, the study of language also provides elements of cross-cultural similarity with regards to the expression of emotion. For example, a study by a Chinese psychologist who did a comparison of novels both from China and the West identified parallels in the ways in which emotions were portrayed in fiction from both regions. For example, many physiological reactions to emotion such as flushing, trembling and goose pimples were evident in both Chinese and Western writing (Ibid, pp. 392). The impact of culture on the expression of emotion Despite the fact that many psychologists have shown that ways of expressing emotions are universal in nature, many believe that the expression of emotion is dependent on an individual's culture. Studies have shows that a set of cultural display rules exist which state how emotions should be expressed in particular social situations and which behaviours are appropriate when expressing an emotion (Ibid, pp. 392). Cultural display rules are not universal and vary cross-culturally. For example, in some cultures, behaviour deemed acceptable following the loss of a close friend or relative is that of openly crying as a sign of mourning, whereas in others, singing and dancing is the norm (Ibid, pp. ...read more.

Conclusion

For instance, English speakers use categories such as sad, angry, disgusted and happy to describe how they are feeling. Malay speakers, on the other hand, use categories of sedih, marah, jijik and gembira, which do not match English categories (Ibid, pp. 24). In fact, the closest word in Malay, marah, to the English word angry, is not associated with violence and aggression; but more feelings of resent and upset, which is related to Malay attitudes towards emotional expression of violence and aggression (Ibid, pp. 240). In this way, lexicon is able to provide "clues to the emotional universe of a culture" (Ibid, pp. 34). Conclusions Although the evidence provided by Darwin to suggest that facial expressions are universal and that humans are born with the capacity to express the same set of emotions in the same ways, I believe that universality ends with facial expression alone, and that even though facial expressions are largely universal, our culture affects all other aspects of emotion expression. Culture exerts its influence in three main ways; by providing a set of cultural display rules, which determine the appropriateness of displaying certain emotions in different social situations, by shaping the norms in both individualistic and collectivist cultures, and through language. In this way, the universality of emotion provides culture with a base, from which the moulding and shaping can start (Matsumoto & Juang, 2004, pp. 230), changing the ways in which humans both express and perceive emotions. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Applied Sociology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Applied Sociology essays

  1. modernisation vs dependancy theory

    ways to trade with other countries outside of the modernised countries ring. It appears that the dependency schools views are exactly the opposite of those of the modernisation schools views in that; first of all, they both come from different theoretical backgrounds.

  2. Discuss the definition of and development of community and arising the definition of community ...

    six principles of community development. I just want to note here that the feedback I received from Michael Kenny (the lecturer) was of the highest order, and indeed helped me critiquing the project as should, using the "six principles of community" rather than using the "project cycle".

  1. Compare Qualitative and Quantitative Approach in the Study of Language

    However, a number of other variables correlate with word frequency. For example, frequent/common words tend to be shorter. If researchers wish to demonstrate an unambiguous effect of frequency, they must be careful to control for these other factors. Moreover, there are simply too many factors or variables that are believed to influence language processing.

  2. Attitude of Pre-Marriage Couples towards Marriage

    The overall picture suggests a considerable shift towards women as it was in the past. (Young 1995, p.133-134) In he recent times do male and female married for the sake of children? What will be motive behind the marriage? In general respondent have positive view of having children after marriage.

  1. Case study of two cultures

    Airini also lost her parents at a young age from illness and heart disease and was brought up after that time by her Aunty and Uncle. She was brought up in New Zealand with a strong sense of her Pacific heritage and is very proud of her cultural beliefs.

  2. Popular Culture Essay. In my essay I will scrutinise feminism in advertising. We live ...

    This is one form of feminism that has limitation to the feminist theory of popular culture. Like I said before, feminist objections of stereotyping women are more evident in commercials that sell products for women and in magazines for female audience (Lindner 2004).

  1. This evaluation study will thoroughly study factors that influence teen pregnancy and parenting on ...

    was confirmed to be of depression, and/or (3) was confirmed to be of both low self-esteem and depression. Data Evaluation         Evaluation of the data will be based on calculating the intended affect or the outcomes/results of the study. The method used to measure the results of the study will be the same as those found in other research synthesis studies.

  2. My Newfoundland Culture

    The majority of the houses in the harbor (Lawn) were built along the hillsides, or close to the water. They were mainly single or two storey homes with gable roofs. These locations and types were chosen and used quite often to protect them from Newfoundland?s harsh weather conditions.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work