The expression of emotions and cultural differences

The expression of emotions and cultural differences

Emotions play an extremely important role in our daily lives. All of us daily witness a wide variety of emotions, both ours and others. The interpretation of what these signals can mean, to determine how to respond and deal with our own emotional experiences, is actually somewhat complex.


  • 1 Emotions in Psychology
  • 2 Are they emotional expressions Universal?
  • 3 Cultural variations in emotional expression

Emotions in Psychology

Emotions are also an important issue in the psychology and researchers have dedicated a great deal of energy towards understanding the effects of emotions and theories on how and why emotions occur.

Luckily researchers have learned a lot about the real expression of emotion in recent times.

We express our emotions in a number of different ways, including both the Verbal communication Like nonverbal communication. A body language such as a hunched posture or crossed arms can be used to send different emotional signals. One of the most important ways to express emotions, however, is through facial expressions.

Are they emotional expressions Universal?

But body language signals and gestures sometimes have different meanings according to different cultures. Some more than others, the emotional expressions of people from other countries and cultures are expressed in different ways.

In his 1872 book The expression of emotions in man and animals, the famous naturalist Charles Darwin argued that human expressions of emotion They were both innate and universal in all cultures. But researcher and emotion expert Paul Ekman has found that, in many cases, facial expressions used to convey basic emotions tend to be shaped by the culture of origin.

He has also found that the human face is capable of creating an amazing variety of expressions (more than 7,000), although there are six key basic emotions:

  • Happiness
  • Surprise
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Disgust
  • Fear

Researchers have shown with photographs the expressions of these emotions to different cultures and people around the world, and have been able to identify the basic emotions behind these expressions.

Eckman believes that only these basic emotions are probably innate.

Cultural variations in emotional expression

However, there are important cultural differences in the way of expressing emotions.

In an experiment conducted, the researchers watched Japanese and American participants while viewing images and videos of things such as amputations and creepy surgeries. People of both backgrounds showed similar facial expressions, grimacing and conveying disgust at the bloody images.

But interestingly, when a scientist was present in the room, Japanese participants masked their feelings and kept facial expressions neutral. Why does the presence of the scientist change the way these viewers responded? Apparently in Japanese culture, it is considered offensive to reveal negative emotions in the presence of an authority figure.

Masking their expressions, Japanese viewers were complying with the rules of visualization of their culture.

The ability to express and interpret emotions plays an essential part of our daily lives. While many expressions of emotion are innate, and are likely to be found in the structure of the human brain, there are many other factors that influence the way we reveal our inner feelings. Social pressures, cultural influences and past experience can all help shape the expression of emotion.

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