ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Do You Know About Emotions?

Updated on July 22, 2018

What is an Emotion?

“An emotion is a feeling comprising physiological and behavioral (and possibly cognitive) reactions to internal and external events” – Sternberg, R. In search of the human mind, 2nd Ed.Harcourt, Brace, 1998 p 542.

Basic emotions regulate us in response to environmental challenges and opportunities. While there is no definitive list of basic emotions, one popular one (from emotion expert Paul Ekman) contains six: fear, anger, sadness, disgust, surprise, and joy.

Display of Emotions

Though people may recognize the facial expressions of basic emotions, the way in which they are experienced and expressed vary among cultures. Some cultures prefer an open show of emotions. E.g. shouting, crying, gesturing body language, swearing and cursing. While some cultures prefer a low key, rational approach to emotions. E.g. - Quiet tone of voice, minimal body language.

Cultural norms about Emotion and Emotional expression in Individualistic and collectivist cultures

Individualistic cultures view the individual as the most important social unit. They value and promote uniqueness, separateness, and autonomy (Markus & Kitayama, 1991). Therefore, emotions are seen as important personal experiences, and their expression is the individual’s right. Individualistic cultures may prescribe rules encouraging outward displays of emotion that exaggerate the strength of the feeling.

Collectivist cultures value groups over individuals, and promote harmony and cooperation within the group rather than individual assertion (Noon & Lewis, 1992). Emotions are seen as interactive experiences and reflect the social context rather than the inner self. Expression of emotion is also controlled, as it is grounded in assessment of the relationship between the self and others (Mesquita, 2000).

The expression of an emotion depends upon its specific use and meaning in a culture. In individualistic cultures, norms for positive emotions are more restrictive. There is considerable pressure to be happy and to express happiness. People look for happy situations, and such situations are positively evaluated. Deviations have significant consequences: unhappiness is seen as failure and, in the extreme, its expression may be seen to warrant psychotherapy (Eid & Diener, 2001).

Collectivist cultures seem to be less restrictive regarding positive emotions and such emotions can be evaluated as undesirable. For example, the study by Eid and Diener (2001) showed that Chinese displayed the lowest frequency and intensity for all positive emotions including happiness (joy) compared to Australia and United States.

In individualistic cultures, anger is considered functional and is tolerated in the interest of self-assertion and protecting individual rights and freedom, as long as it is expressed in socially appropriate ways (Eid & Diener, 2001; Stearns &Stearns, 1986). In fact, the expression of anger may be seen as appropriate if it helps to clarify a situation (Eid & Diener, 2001).

The expression of anger is less acceptable in collectivistic cultures because it threatens authority and harmony within relationships (Miyake & Yamazaki, 1995).

In contrast, sadness and fear can be seen as relatively powerless emotions (Timmers et al., 1998) that lead to withdrawal from, rather than disruption of, the group. As they are less threatening to the harmony of the group compared to powerful emotions, they may be more acceptable in collectivist cultures than in individualistic cultures.

Interesting facts about the expression of emotions.

In stark contrast to cultures that reject anger and aggression, in principal or in practice, are warrior cultures in which anger was cultivated as a special trance like state that produce indifference to wound and fearless in battle.

Extensive historical analysis traces mad, recklessly fighting, shape-shifting “true berserkers” from the second millennium BC, including Assyrians, Hittites, Thracians, Celts, tribes of Italic, Germanic, and Anglo people, and Aztecs. Various berserker groups fanned their fury with dances, a possible remnant of which is the Maori haka with its facial contortions, eye-bulging, tongue gyrations, body slapping, and grunts, all of which convey a wild and fearless, if stylized, ferocity.

In some cultural contexts, the perspective of happiness are more ambivalent. For instance, Confusions beliefs about the common roots of happiness and unhappiness encourage a less obliging attitudes towards being happy among many East Asian cultures. Thus, the Chinese think less often about how happy and satisfying their lives are compared to Americans, while the Japanese traditionally hold a hesitant attitude towards happiness. Still in other cultures, individuals are averse of fearful of happiness, based on their convictions that misfortune often lurks behind joy.

The magazine psychology today talks about an 86 year old women who lives in Dongshan, a city on China’s South Western coast. “She was living an active life but yet, she has already bought the pants, shirt, shoes, earrings and purse she will wear after she dies. She had a portrait taken that will be displayed at her funeral. And she wrapped the items neatly in a cardboard box to await her death”. For many people in the Western world, picking out an outfit for their own funeral might seem sad or macabre. But “Xie” the old women and her friends see it as a cause for reassurance, even celebration. “Hus’s research states that the greater sense of connection between living and dead family members is one reason that preparing for burial cannot be a sad event.


Understanding Emotions and the expression of emotions is like a bridge which enables us to understand others. We should develop our Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in order to build healthy relationships. The book which always been helpful to me regarding this is "Emotional Intelligence" By Daniel Goleman. I hope you will enjoy reading this and improve your inter relationships as well.


Tiedens, L. Z. (2001). Anger and advancement versus sadness and subjugation: the effect of negative emotion expressions on social status conferral. Journal of personality and social psychology, 80(1), 86.

Matsumoto, D., Takeuchi, S., Andayani, S., Kouznetsova, N., & Krupp, D. (1998). The contribution of individualism vs. collectivism to cross‐national differences in display rules. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 1(2), 147-165.

Elfenbein, H. A., & Ambady, N. (2002). On the universality and cultural specificity of emotion recognition: a meta-analysis. Psychological bulletin, 128(2), 203.

Safdar, S., Friedlmeier, W., Matsumoto, D., Yoo, S. H., Kwantes, C. T., Kakai, H., & Shigemasu, E. (2009). Variations of emotional display rules within and across cultures: A comparison between Canada, USA, and Japan. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, 41(1), 1.

Joshanloo, M., & Weijers, D. (2014). Aversion to happiness across cultures: A review of where and why people are averse to happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies, 15(3), 717-735.

Matsumoto, D., Yoo, S. H., & Chung, J. (2010). The expression of anger across cultures. In International handbook of anger (pp. 125-137). Springer, New York, NY.

Zeman, J., & Garber, J. (1996). Display rules for anger, sadness, and pain: It depends on who is watching. Child development, 67(3), 957-973.

Fischer, A. H., Rodriguez Mosquera, P. M., Van Vianen, A. E., & Manstead, A. S. (2004). Gender and culture differences in emotion. Emotion, 4(1), 87.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)