• 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

    However some modernisation theorists have also argued that explanations for 'under development' can be located within the culture of the societies of the 'third world.' This type of idea was pin pointed within the workings of the psychologist, David Mc Clelland.

  2. Attitudes towards Depression: Developing a Reliable and Valid Questionnaire

    L. (1993) 'Assessment of Science Teaching and Learning Outcomes. Monograph 6'. National Center for Science Teaching and Learning, Ohio State University. Joppe, M. (2000) 'The Research Process'. [online] Available at: <http://www.ryerson.ca/mjoppe/rp.htm> [Accessed on 14th April 2009] Likert, R (1932) 'A Technique for the Measurement of Attitudes'. Archives of Psychology, 140.

  1. Discussing the globalization of the economy and the globalization of culture.

    The emergence of the knowledge society has been linked to the development of a broad base of consumers who are technologically literate and eagerly integrate new advances in computing, entertainment and television into their everyday lives. The very operation of the global economy reflects the changes that have occurred in

  2. Summary on the situation of foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong

    Another reason forcing this kind of labour away from their home country is that most of them are came from poor peasant families and it is difficult for them to find a job without a well social network. Hong Kong's household based social reproduction came to be linked to female

  1. Is globalization new and inevitable? Discuss with reference to EITHER culture, economics OR politics.

    Intensification of flows implies, that the impacts of events on one side of the world are felt more strongly than before on the other side of the world. In Chernobyl the explosion had an effect on the local environment as well as on the environment thousands of miles away.

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

    Unfortunately popular culture has great impact on how people carry and see themselves around others. The air bushed female bodies on advertisements will lead to denial of how they look without the manipulation. Individuals exposed to sexist commercials had negative thoughts about their own body image (Lavine et al 1999).

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

    This phenomenon is not only popular in societies but is also projected widely in the media which advertises how some people can actually control their weight. This guides the adolescents to believe that obesity is a mater of personal input more then anything else while the truth of the matter is that there are numerous other factors involved.

  2. The existence of Face-Work in a Technological Society. Erving Goffmans essay On ...

    This essay will examine four popular forms of electronic social interactions, online social networking, real time chatting, text messaging and video chatting, and show how Goffmanâs theory of Face-Work is still applicable. Facebook is the leading online social network in the world.

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