Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin vol:39 issue:4 pages:540-553
Two studies tested the idea that the situations that people encounter frequently and the situations that they associate most strongly with an emotion differ across cultures in ways that can be understood from what a culture condones or condemns. In a questionnaire study, N = 163 students from the United States and Japan perceived situations as more frequent to the extent that they elicited condoned emotions (anger in the United States, shame in Japan), and they perceived situations as less frequent to the extent that they elicited condemned emotions (shame in the United States, anger in Japan). In a second study, N = 160 students from the United States and Japan free-sorted the same situations. For each emotion, the situations could be organized along two cross-culturally common dimensions. Those situations that touched upon central cultural concerns were perceived to elicit stronger emotions. The largest cultural differences were found for shame; smaller, yet meaningful, differences were found for anger.