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Re: [xmca] Emotions


Digging a bit more into the papers on his web site, I would say that Ekman's position on cultural variation is more nuanced than I gave him credit for. First, there are different "display rules" both across and within cultures:

"If people
are not trying to mask or suppress their emotions.
then their expressions will be understandable to us no
marterwhat the race, culture, language, age or sex ofthe
person who shows them. That is a big if. however, for we
often follow display rules in social life to manage and
disguise our emotional expressions. and these do vary
with age, sex, social class and culture"

Second, people have to interpret each other's facial expressions, and they do this in complex ways which he proposes may be agreed upon within a cultural group, but presumably may differ across cultures:

"We know virtually nothing about the type of infromation people typically derive
from a facial expression when they see the expression in situ, accompanied as it
usually is by speech, gestural and postural behaviors, and when the person
observing the face has the usual array of expectations about what may be most
likely to occur in that situation.... I expect that we could find better than chance agreement within a cultural
group about each of these emotion-related messages - antecedents,simultaneous
behaviors, metaphors, and consequent events - just as we have found
agreement about specific emotion terms."


"Individual differences in our experience allow for enormous variations in
the specifics of what calls forth emotion that are attributable to personality, family,
and culture." Although what Ekman calls the "antecedents" of each emotion show commonalities - for example "An actual or threat of harm for fear. The loss of an object to which one was attached
for sadness. An event that is either unexpected or contrary to expectation for surprise" -  what counts as a threat of harm, for example, will be different in different cultures.

Furthermore, "the capacity to represent emotional experience in words changes many
aspects of emotional experience," itself of course a cultural process, and since cultures differ in the words available to talk about emotions these changes have a cross-cultural component


On Jul 7, 2010, at 9:38 PM, mike cole wrote:

> Social, but no culture?
> Context but no culture?
> hmmmmm. How is that possible?
> (have not changed sub line)
> mike

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