Plenary Meeting of the International Society for Research on Emotion date:2-6 August 2013
Anger and shame are both about the relationship between an individual and others in the environment. However, cultures differ in their relationship concerns: Japanese culture emphasizes the relatedness between people, which is achieved by perspective-taking and self-criticism; North American culture emphasizes the maintenance of autonomy, which is achieved by self-focus and self-enhancement. We expected that everyday experiences of anger and shame in Japan and the United States reflect these different relational concerns. Specifically, we tested whether the appraisals typically associated with anger and shame would differ in line with the Japanese concern with relatedness and the American concern with autonomy. Sixty-five Japanese and 53 American students participated in a seven-day diary study of anger and shame. Each day, participants reported the most important anger and shame incident and indicated whether they themselves or others were to be blamed (for anger), and whether their own or others’ opinion of themselves were affected (for shame). In line with the Japanese concern for relatedness, Japanese blamed themselves more than others during anger episodes – especially in situations with close others; they focused more on others’ perspective than their own during shame episodes – especially when their public face was at stake. In contrast, and in line with the American concern for autonomy, Americans generally blamed others more than themselves during anger episodes; they generally focused more on their own than others’ perspective during shame episodes. The current study thus suggests that culturally salient concerns may guide an individual's emotional appraisals.