Emotions are engagements with a continuously changing world of social relationships. In the present article, we propose that emotions are therefore best conceived as ongoing, dynamic, and interactive processes that are socially constructed. We review evidence for three social contexts of emotion construction that are embedded in each other: The unfolding of emotion within interactions, the mutual constitution of emotion and relationships, and the shaping of emotion at the level of the larger cultural context. Finally, we point to interdependencies amongst (...) these contexts of construction and discuss future directions of a constructionist perspective. (shrink)
We propose a sociodynamic model of emotions, in which emotions are seen as dynamic systems that emerge from the interactions and relationships in which they take place. Our model does not deny that emotions are biologically constrained, yet it takes seriously that emotions are situated in specific contexts. We conceive emotions as largely functional to the sociocultural environment in which they occur; this is so because sociocultural environments foster the emergence of emotions that positively contribute to social cohesion. The role (...) of the social context includes actual, online shaping—affordances, constraints, and reward structures—and thus goes beyond merely providing the content of cognitive representations. (shrink)
Emotion suppression has been found to have negative psychological and social consequences in Western cultural contexts. Yet, in some other cultural contexts, emotion suppression is less likely to have negative consequences; relatedly, emotion suppression is also more common in those East-Asian cultural contexts. In a dyadic conflict study, we aim to conceptually replicate cultural differences found in previous research with respect to the prevalence and consequences of emotion suppression,and extend previous research by testing whether cultural differences are larger for some (...) than for other types of negative emotions. We postulate that cultural differences in suppression are less pronounced for socially engaging emotions than socially disengaging emotions, because the former foster the relationship, whereas the latter emphasize individual goals. Belgian and Japanese couples engaged in a 10-min conflict interaction followed by video-mediated recall, during which participants rated their emotions and emotion suppression every 30 s. As predicted, Japanese participants reported more suppression than their Belgian counterparts, but the cultural difference was more pronounced when participants experienced more socially disengaging emotions than when they experienced more socially engaging emotions. These results suggest that the type of emotion should be considered when describing cultural differences in emotion suppression. Finally, and consistent with previous research, emotion suppression was negatively associated with interaction outcomes in Belgian couples, but not in Japanese couples. (shrink)
Emotions are complex processes that are constrained by biology, but not fully explained without taking into account the social context in which they develop. Mapping these contexts, and understanding how and under which conditions they shape emotions, is an essential task for the science of emotions; a task that—at least in psychology—has been neglected. The three commentaries each offer some interesting reflections on exactly this task.
It is time to abandon essentialism in emotional research: Our sociodynamic model proposes to study emotions as contextualized processes, rather than as states. This does not mean eschewing mental processes, but rather studying them dynamically and in open interaction with their environment. Our proposal is not to shift the focus of emotion studies to a different level. Rather, placing emotions in their social context renders their psychological qualities understandable and predictable. This is illustrated by some examples from my own cross-cultural (...) research. (shrink)
The “happiness agenda” is a worldwide movement that claims that happiness is the highest good, happiness can be measured, and public policy should promote happiness. Against Happiness is a thorough and powerful critique of this program, revealing the flaws of its concept of happiness and advocating a renewed focus on equality and justice. -/- Written by an interdisciplinary team of authors, this book provides both theoretical and empirical analysis of the limitations of the happiness agenda. The authors emphasize that this (...) movement draws on a parochial, Western-centric philosophical basis and demographic sample. They show that happiness defined as subjective satisfaction or a surplus of positive emotions bears little resemblance to the richer and more nuanced concepts of the good life found in many world traditions. Cross-cultural philosophy, comparative theology, and social and cultural psychology all teach that cultures and subcultures vary in how much value they place on life satisfaction or feeling happy. Furthermore, the ideas promoted by the happiness agenda can compete with rights, justice, sustainability, and equality—and even conceal racial and gender injustice. -/- Against Happiness argues that a better way forward requires integration of cross-cultural philosophical, ethical, and political thought with critical social science. Ultimately, the authors contend, happiness should be a secondary goal—worth pursuing only if it is contingent on the demands of justice. (shrink)
ABSTRACTIt has been widely believed that individuals transform high-intensity shame into anger because shame is unbearably painful. This phenomenon was first coined “humiliated fury,” and it has since received empirical support. The current research tests the novel hypothesis that shame-related anger is not universal, yet hinges on the cultural meanings of anger and shame. Two studies compared the occurrence of shame-related anger in North American cultural contexts to its occurrence in Japanese contexts. In a daily-diary study, participants rated anger and (...) shame feelings during shame situations that occurred over one week. In a vignette study, participants rated anger and shame in response to standardised shame vignettes that were generated in previous research by either U.S. or Japanese respondents. Across the two studies, and in line with previous research on humiliated fury, shame predicted anger for U.S. parti... (shrink)