Cultural Influences On Emotional Expression and Perception

Topics: Culture, Emotion, Sociology Pages: 6 (1874 words) Published: November 8, 2007
Everyone is uniquely shaped, and should not be compared with others. Expressing ourselves can differentiate from other expressions since we are unique in each and every way. Some similarities may exist, but not necessarily every aspect of what we tend to express. As defined in the textbook, "emotional expression is the most important representation of our emotions, and may be similar to others" (Adler, Proctor, and Towne 137). Perception is part of the emotional expression because "it is the process of selecting, acquiring, interpreting, and organizing sensory information" (wikipedia.org). These two are important because we express what we express with the perception of our emotional expression. Different situations will result in different perception of emotional expression. For example, we may jump when we feel excitement or cry when we feel grief. Every expression we make is appropriate on what we feel in that particular event. We live in a country with a very diverse culture, and everyone is raise differently base on their culture. This paper will talk about the cultural influences on emotional expression and perception. Examples, description, and explanation will also be given to further explain the topic.

Although many emotions and expressions of emotions are universal, some differences exist among many cultures. The comparison of both cultural similarity and difference has been very important in the area of emotional expression and perception (Matsumoto par. 2). It is very helpful to know the similarities and differences in emotion across cultures. It helps us understand the role of emotion in our lives and the importance of emotion to our thinking and behaving. People in different cultures categorize emotions differently. Some languages have classification for emotions that are not classified in other languages. It is a belief that nonverbal expressions of emotion differ across cultures, due to the fact that different cultures have different display rules. Display rules are norms that tell people whether, which, how, and when emotions should be displayed (wikipedia.org). The power of cultural norm determines how and when to show emotions that is not actually felt. The comparison of emotions helps us understand the role of emotional expression and nonverbal behaviors in social interactions to improve interaction among people from different cultural backgrounds.

In addition, when comparing expressions, people of different cultures agree on which is more strongly expressed? Cross-cultural research indicates that the answer to this question is yes. Itziar and Fernandez compared these differences in paired expression of the same emotion (par. 5). According to the research, the result was that "ninety-two percent of the time, the ten cultures in their study agreed on which of two expressions was more intense" (Fernandez, Carrera, Sanchez, Paez, and Candia par. 5). For example, looking separately for each emotion, American and Japanese agreed on which photo were more intense in 24 out of 30 comparison. These findings are important because they suggest that people of different cultures use the same visual cues in judging others (Fernandez, Carrera, Sanchez, Paez, and Candia par. 8).

The role of culture in emotional control is shown most explicitly through the use of display rules. Display rules are learned, culturally determined norms that govern people's display of emotions in different social situations (Matsumoto, 1990). Matsumoto (1972) found cultural differences in display rules when a group of Japanese and American students were shown stressful film stimuli in two conditions. In the alone condition, both the Japanese and American students displayed the same negative facial expressions of fear, disgust, and distress. However, when the experimenter was present, the Japanese students smiled to mask their negative emotions while the Americans continued to exhibit their negative affects. Furthermore, a study by...


Bibliography: dler, Ronald B., Russell F. Proctor, and Neil Towne. Looking Out Looking In. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2005.
Aeker, Jennifer L. and Patti Williams. "Empathy Versus Pride: The Influence of Emotional Appeals Across Cultures." The Journal of Consumer Research 25.3 (1998): 241-61.
Fernandez, Itziar, Pilar Carrerra, Flor Sanchez, Dario Paez, and Luis Candia. "Differences Between Cultures in Emotional Verbal and Non-Verbal Reactions." Psicothema 12 (2000): 83-92.
Forgas, Joseph P. and Michael H. Bond. "Cultural Influences on the Perception of InteractionEpisodes." Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 11.1 (1985): 75-88.
Matsumoto, David. "American-Japanese Cultural Differences in Judgments of Emotional Expressions of Different Intensities." Cognition and Emotion 16.6 (2002): 721-47.
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