By , Ekman was struggling. He became convinced that, if he was going to test his hypothesis, he needed to first figure out a way to accurately quantify minute human facial expressions. Then he could see if there was a link between those facial expressions and inner, universal emotions. Ekman spent the next eight years alongside Tomkins and another colleague, Wallace Friesen, developing their method.
Ekman and Friesen tested their approach by asking students in the United States, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Japan to match photographs of facial expressions with words or stories related to emotions. It quickly became apparent that a basic set of six facial expressions was linked to the same six emotions in all of those places.
However, there was a loophole: all of the test subjects studied by both Ekman and Eibl-Eibesfeldt had seen Western media of some sort, whether photographs, films, or television programs. Ekman and Friesen entered a series of mountain ranges in the Southeast Highlands of Papua New Guinea, looking for a group of people as yet untouched by Western mass media. In the dense forest of the Okapa Valley, they were led to the Fore people, whom Western anthropologists had encountered for the first time only two decades earlier.
The Fore lived on both the north and south sides of the Wanevinti Mountains, clustered in huts on the hillsides and almost cut off from the rest of the world. With a jeep and some patience, you could just about drive to the region via a rough track. Once they reached the Fore, Ekman and Friesen screened their potential test participants. They needed people who had never seen movies or other Western media, and thus could not have been influenced by Western emotional responses; who did not speak any form of English; and who had never lived near or worked with an outsider.
They found adults and children who fit the bill. The idea was to use the same photos and stories that the researchers had used everywhere else. Knowing that the Fore spoke three dialects, Ekman and Friesen put their translators through rigorous training in an attempt to make sure that varying translations of the stories would not influence the experiment. Despite having never seen photos before, the Fore who took part in the experiment caught on quickly. They were. Ekman and Friesen thought that they had nailed it, proving that all humans, everywhere, felt those six basic emotions: happiness, anger, sadness, disgust, surprise, and fear.
The pair published their results in Margaret Mead was stunned. He wanted to know how Mead and the others could have been so wrong. He wondered if these expressions, while universal, were influenced by how each specific culture thought someone ought to behave. He ran another experiment. One group was left to watch these films alone; the other was joined by an authority figure—a scientist in a white coat. The people who were joined by an authority figure reacted differently: the Japanese participants masked their reactions and remained stoic and stone-faced, while the Americans exaggerated their expressions.
The people who were alone reacted in the same way, whether they were in Japan or the US. It was the presence of the authority figure in the room—the Margaret Mead in a white coat—that had triggered the differences between the groups. The anthropologists, Ekman suggested , were seeing what their subjects wanted them to see. Curiously, regardless of who was in the room with the students, if the recordings were slowed down, you could still see slight traces of the six facial expressions. Instead of the Fore, the Shuar people of Ecuador served as the group with which US subjects were compared.
All that changed was the timbre of the voice. The participants were then asked to select one picture of a facial expression from five choices, to best represent the emotion being expressed by the voice they heard. Again, the results between the groups were similar, suggesting that, despite learned differences, universal basic emotions can also be spotted in speech.
Every week, dozens of peer-reviewed papers that build on the categories of basic emotions are published. Debbie, I relieved a horrible relationship that we had with some neighbors that made my body do just what yours did. It took years to get over. Thanks for the well written article! Thanks for sharing your experience. What I needed to control was my feelings and behaviors.
Feels good. Glad you healed from your dealings with your neighbors. Interesting Debbie, feelings v emotions. I think ultimately they both create a vibration within which leads to more of the same in our outer physical world.. As you explain so clearly the answer lies with choosing what feelings we actually want and how we decide to perceive the event…a sort of reality check if you will. Of course, simple to say and a bit of effort required to do!
Elle, thank you for your insights. Yes, as with everything on the growth path…much easier said than done, but well worth the effort! Becoming aware and choosing my perception and feelings has changed my world for the better. Just came across your website. I recently suffered a traumatic accident in which I am in the process of understanding more about how the brain works and how I can overcome what happened to me by learning how the brain works. Thank you, Hugo and all the best to you. Keep going. Understanding your brain is the first step to really healing it.
You can improve, and you will. It takes patience and persistence. Debbie, I enjoyed your article and testimonial on the difference between emotions and feelings. It was very informative and very well written. I defined both words extensively using the dictionaries online before I read your article. The dictionaries were helpful. But reading your article gave me more insight; and the readers responses helped to give me another angle to view from. Your article helped me to better understand my attitude towards my elderly mother who is living with temporarily.
She was a good mother. But now, I am seeing the real her, her character. She did and does not want to talk about things we need to dicuss, concerning me. We have had verbal battles but they have decreased considerably.
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I had to tell her recently of sexual abuse she allowed me to endure for years. I now realize why I have responded to her in an unfriendly manner. There is truly a difference between emotions and feelings. I have experienced them.
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While reading your article, I was able to discern the difference. Mike Murdock, the Wisdom Doctor, teaches about difference. Truly, the Holy Bible has been my comfort in my afflictions…: and, I believe the Holy Ghost has led me to your article at this 3 AM hour.
Thank you for this article. You are right, we must share our stories to help ourselves and others. May God continue to bless you. Another one of your best blog posts! Hi Debbie. Thank you so much for your very illuminating article. I wonder if you could tell me what your response is to the following interpretation of the difference between emotions and feelings?
- R Applied to Medical Statistics;
- Zweifel (Theologie und Glaube) (German Edition).
- T.r.u.e. Emotionz.
It would really help me a great deal. Many, many thanks. I sorta disagree with the definition of feelings and emotions. For me, feelings are the information from your senses including the current physical state of your body, while emotion triggered by the event drives from past experiences. I see how that makes sense, John. The definitions to which I refer are scientific, but we each have to use the ones that work for us. Hi Debbie, you seem to know your stuff.
This involves talking about the events by mentioning observations instead of evaluations and judgements, like you used in talking about your 18 years of marriage. This in turn changes the negative feeling. You are still saying that your interactions with your husbans still trigger emotions in you but you can deal with the feelings now. Since you identify these as emotions, and emotions are not triggered by meaning, they must be created by Conditioning. This is because these states were associated with your husband contacting you, by those events and your states of being repeatedly happening together.
Consciously differentiating between the two and realising that your circumstances you have changed, will help. Trying this trick might help you turn this story into a magnificent epic of empowerment and personal responsibility. Thank you for your many thoughts! However, sounds like you have a different way of thinking about them which works for you. And yes, our experience of this life, feelings and emotions all boil down to the meaning we give to everything. Therein lies our power to create our wn peace and happiness. All the best to you!
I made a video about some of the different feelings we humans have. Check it out! OK, the play between emotions and feeling. How do I release the entire experience feelings and emotions?
1. Defining the Emotions: What are the Desiderata?
How emotionsfeelings are stored in subconscious — they seem permanent? Subconscious is pervasive, but not permanent and can be changed. You have to become aware of your beliefs and thoughts and consciously work to change them. Now I got it. Love the way you explained about the casual relationship between the two and the never-ending-pain effect in life. Thanks for this discussion thread — there are so many soundbites from people on here which are not disembodied poster catchphrases, but real soundbites which relate to real situations.
Very helpful. After reading your article this is how I summed up what to do going forward: Understand my emotions and manage my feelings, do not let my feelings control me 1. That is a very helpful interpretation of the information and a good action plan! Thank you for sharing it.
I stumbled upon your website when I was searching for the difference between emotions and feelings. Then I read your story. I felt that I had to write to you. The difference between emotions and feelings apart, I would like to congratulate you being a bold, strong and a wise woman. Congratulations on taking that first decision to live differently to the way you had been living.
Congratulations on reclaiming your life. After what you went through and then the journey of personal growth that you undertook, you are an inspiration for women, especially women who go through similar circumstances. Thank you so much for your kind words. They are greatly appreciated.
I have learned that by sharing our knowledge and our stories, we can all help each other heal. You would like my memoir. It tells more of the back story than the website. All the best to you. Le Doux is a neuroscientist who has a long career in trying to understand emotion and the brain. Indeed his early work was cited by Goleman when he was formulating his ideas on EI.
What Le Doux suggests is that emotions have a physical and a cognitive part and that we often misread the physical. For example when we are afraid we might sweat, When we are embarrassed we might sweat. So when we notice we are sweating, the cognitive part of our brain has to decide if it is anxiety or embarassment — because it has to do this quickly the physical part of the emotion can get misattributed.
Hence instead of feeling embarrassed, I feel anxious which then translates into a fear of public speaking as an example…. Different emotions do have a similar affect in the body due to release of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Your story is a great example of what happens when we are able to uncouple the two. Interesting interpretation.
What does music express? Basic emotions and beyond
Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Peter. Thanks for this very interesting article — you made this very accessible. Is this how you view this? Or could you reframe this in a way that fits with your above, very accessible, description? By contrast, Easterners construe self as fundamentally connected to, and interdependent on, others. This is called interdependent self-construal. For those who have interdependent self-construal, the core unit of society is the group. In addition, individuals must adjust to the group so that society's harmony is maintained.
In other words, emotional arousal is one of the most important research topics in psychology literature. In line with this, one of the many researched aspects of emotion that shows cultural differences is emotional arousal level. Affective states i. The circumplex model of affect proposes that all emotions are the product of two independent neurophysiological systems. The degree-of-arousal dimension, which is also called activation—deactivation 26 or engagement—disengagement, 24 refers to the perception of the physiological activation level during affective experience.
Russell 24 categorized verbal expressions of emotion in the English language in the two dimensions of valence and arousal. Since then, this two-factor structure of emotion has been demonstrated numerously by many studies in different methods. Emotions with different arousal levels have different purposes or functions. These emotions correspond to situations where mobilization and energy are required. When a high arousal emotion is induced, decision making becomes focused and simplified.
Cross-cultural differences in emotional arousal level have consistently been found. Western culture is related to high arousal emotions, whereas Eastern culture is related to low arousal emotions. These cultural differences are explained by the distinct characteristics of individualist and collectivist cultures. In Western culture, people try to influence others. In fact, in terms of positively valenced emotions, the arousal level of ideal affect differs by cultures.
Tsai 36 argued that Westerners value high arousal emotions more than Easterners, so they promote activities that elicit high arousal emotions. Actually, Americans, compared with East-Asians, are reported to prefer high arousal emotional states such as excitement 37 or enthusiasm. Lu and Gilmour 40 conducted a cross-cultural study on the conception of happiness; they found that the American conception of happiness emphasized on being upbeat, whereas the Chinese conception of happiness focused on being solemn and reserved. This means that, in America, high arousal positive emotional states are considered as happiness, a desirable state.
By contrast, low arousal positive emotional states are considered as happiness in China. This was replicated in another study. Uchida and Kitayama 57 showed that Japanese people conceptualized happiness as experiencing low arousal positive emotions more than high arousal positive emotions, and it was vice versa for American people. Owing to the cultural difference in the norm about emotional arousal level, differences in the actual arousal levels of emotional experience also emerge.
In fact, Kacen and Lee 41 conducted a cross-cultural study comparing Caucasians and Asians. Researchers used an arousal scale composed of four bipolar items, which consists of emotion adjectives representing different arousal levels. Emotion items in the arousal scale were stimulated—relaxed reversed , calm—excited, frenzied—sluggish reversed , and unaroused—aroused. The result showed that Caucasians were more likely to be in high arousal emotional states i. In addition, Tsai and colleagues 42 reported that the closer the participants to American rather than Chinese cultural orientation, the higher their cardiovascular arousal level during interpersonal tasks.
Another example of the difference of actual arousal levels of emotional experiences between individualist and collectivist cultures can be found from emotion scale research. Affect scales measuring positive and negative emotional experiences developed in America consist mostly of high arousal emotions. This is because emotion scale items are selected based on the emotional experience of people of their own cultural background.
This suggests that American people experience high arousal emotions more than low arousal emotions. Furthermore, cultural differences are also found in physiological and behavioral aspects of emotion. Research conducted by Scherer et al 54 showed that Japanese participants, compared with American and European participants, reported significantly fewer physiological symptoms.
Mesquita and Frijda 2 suggested that one possible explanation is that their physiological reactions in emotions are actually different. In addition, behaviors corresponding to emotional arousal level differ by culture. Westerners prefer to participate in more active sports than Easterners to elicit high arousal emotions. For example, Western mothers are reported to encourage their children to play games that increase emotional arousal level. Support for cultural difference in the level of emotional arousal has also been found in value studies.
According to Schwartz, 46 individualism and independent self-construal are closely related to stimulation values.
Individuals who have strong stimulation values are motivated to live an exciting and varied life, and to seek novelty and challenges in life. Behaviors derived from these goals are likely to induce high arousal emotions. Therefore, Schwartz's 46 study indirectly support that high arousal emotions are more frequently experienced in Western culture than in Eastern culture.
This is also in line with the fact that impulsiveness and sensation-seeking behavior, which are closely related to emotional arousal, 47 are also more profound in individualist countries than in collectivist countries. The fact that Asian cultural norm discourages experiencing or expressing high arousal emotions can also be explained from the perspective of traditional Asian medicine. From this standpoint, excessive emotional experience can be harmful and cause diseases, no matter how positive the emotions are.
Emotional arousal is a fundamental and important dimension of affective experience, along with valence. Findings consistently support cultural differences in the levels of emotional arousal between the West and the East. Westerners value, promote, and experience high arousal emotions more than low arousal emotions, whereas the vice versa is true for Easterners. As discussed above, emotion has a biological base. In addition, two fundamental dimensions of emotion, valence and arousal, are related to physiological aspect as well as brain activities.
Therefore, cultural differences in emotion, especially in arousal level of emotion, can also have implications in other adjacent areas, such as neuroscience and science of medicine. However, so far only a few researches on this aspect of emotion have been conducted in Asian medicine. As mentioned above, findings about emotion in psychology literature and Asian medicine are in line, in that Korean medicine cautions against excessive emotional activation, which can be translated as high emotional arousals in psychology.
However, compared with studies on cultural differences in norms about emotional arousal level, fewer studies on cultural differences in emotional arousal level, per se , have been conducted, especially those with physiological measures. Therefore, additional research on cultural differences of emotional arousal level from the perspective of Asian medicine may become the stepping stone to an integrative medicine research on Asian medicine and psychology.
National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Integr Med Res v.
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Integr Med Res. Published online Mar Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Nangyeon Lim: rk. Published by Elsevier. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Whether emotion is universal or social is a recurrent issue in the history of emotion study among psychologists.
Keywords: collectivist culture, cultural difference, emotional arousal level, individualist culture. Introduction Whether emotion is universal or social is a recurrent issue in the history of emotion study among psychologists. Individualist and collectivist cultures Cultural differences in various aspects of emotion have been studied and reported. Table 1 List of high and low arousal emotions. Open in a separate window. Cultural differences in emotional arousal level Cross-cultural differences in emotional arousal level have consistently been found.
Conclusion Emotional arousal is a fundamental and important dimension of affective experience, along with valence. Conflicts of interest The author has no conflict of interest to disclose. References 1.
True Emotions | Mikko Salmela
Elfenbein H. On the universality and cultural specificity of emotion recognition: a meta-analysis. Psychol Bull. Mesquita B. Cultural variation in emotions: a review.