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Cultural Influence on

Emotional Expression
By: Lissann Lichtenstein

My question

Started out as: why there is such a negative

stigma towards expressing emotions that are
not normally considered positive, such as
sadness or depression?

My search proved to be difficult

Not many studies I could find talking about what

I was interested in. Lots of opinion paper though

Some adjustments were made on my question

World Happiness
Report 2015

Looking for definition of happiness

Top 15 countries Switzerland (7.587) Iceland (7.561),

Denmark (7.527), Norway (7.522), Canada (7.427), Finland
(7.406), Netherlands (7.378), Sweden (7.364), New Zealand
(7.286), Australia (7.284), Israel (7.278), Costa Rica (7.226) ,
Austria (7.200), Mexico (7.187), United States (7.119)

Mostly first- or second-world countries

Type of questions asked show many limitations


Where they lived/available resources

Textbook Study

Found on Pg. 325 of our textbook (Chp. 8 Emotions)

Done by Hillel Aviezer, Yaacov Trope, and Alexander


wanted to find out how accurately emotion can be

determined from primarily just facial expressions, but also
tested body language, and finally both together in

The results showed that little could be accurately

interpreted from facial expressions alone and that the
body language or the entire picture is where the most
accurate emotional interpretations come from.

Emotional Inferences

Journal article by Scherer, K. R., Banse, R., & Wallbott, H. G.


Emotional inferences made based on specific vocal

expression of anger, sadness, fear, joy, and neutral (voiced
by professional German actors) with information gathered
from nine countries in Europe, the United States, and Asia.

Data show an overall accuracy of 66% across all emotions

and countries[and] patterns of confusion were very
similar across all countries. These data suggest the
existence of similar inference rules from vocal expression
across cultures.

My Conclusions

Reinforced personal belief that definitions of emotions vary depending

on location and situation

Emotion interpretation is fairly universal, regardless of location or


Made me wonder if with the universality of interpretation lead to a

universality of misinterpretation

We live in a world where we always seek for the positive and avoid
the negative as much as possible. Because of that, we may
misunderstand the value of negative emotions as inhibiting the
learning life lessons rather then trying to see what they can teach us.

I also was reminded that different parts of emotions and their

expression are valued in different cultures so there is no universal
solution to destigmatizing the emotions labeled as bad or negative.

Work Cited:

Helliwell, J. F., Layard, R., & Sachs, J. (2015).World Happiness Report 2015.

Schacter, D. L., Gilbert, D. T., Wegner, D. M., & Nock, M. K. (2014). Chapter 8:
and Motivation. InPsychology(3rd ed., pp. 312-349). New York, NY:


Scherer, K. R., Banse, R., & Wallbott, H. G. (2001). Emotion Inferences from
Expression Correlate Across Languages and Cultures.Journal of Cross-Cultural
Psychology,32(1), 76-92. doi:10.1177/0022022101032001009