Emerging trends in the social and behavioral sciences: An interdisciplinary, searchable, linkable, resource pages:1-22
Do emotions differ across cultures? This article reviews the markedly different ways in which psychologists have approached this question in the past and discusses directions for the future. We first show how past research has often failed to find cultural differences in emotion by focusing on what emotions people from different cultures can have hypothetically, rather than investigating the emotions they actually have in daily life. Taking a socio-cultural perspective, we demonstrate that cultural differences in people’s actual emotional practices not only exist, but are also meaningful and predictable: Accumulating evidence suggests that people experience more of those emotions that fit their culture’s relationship goals and values. We review evidence for two mechanisms that may be behind these cultural differences in emotion – different situational ecologies and different tendencies to interpret (or appraise) emotional events. Finally, we discuss a road map for what lies ahead in the psychological study of cultural differences in emotion. We propose that future research will benefit from a dynamic approach to culture and emotion—an approach that explicitly captures how cultural differences in emotion emerge as a function of people’s ongoing social interactions and relationships.