Chapter 3: Basic Emotion Theory and Social Constructivist Theory

Comparing Eastern and Western Cultures

Much of the work supporting the social constructivist perspective compares the experiences of emotions between participants raised in Western Cultures to those of participants raised in Eastern Cultures. Eastern cultures emphasize relationship interdependence, hierarchy and status, whereas Western cultures emphasize individual uniqueness and equality. Based on these cultural differences, Easterners would be expected to experience more emotions related to hierarchy, violations of group norms, and maintaining group harmony. Conversely, Westerners would be expected to experience emotions related to violations of an individual’s rights and to individual successes. Another differences between these two cultures is the experience of mixed emotions. Mixed emotions occur when we experience two different emotions at the same time, such as joy and sadness. Westerns seek to optimize positive emotions and minimize negative emotions. Conversely, Easterners are more comfortable balancing positive and negative emotions, and thus tend to experience mixed emotions more often and for a longer period of time.


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