Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How We Feel Linked To Both Our Culture And How We Behave

Date:
April 19, 2009
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Scientists have long been interested in the interplay of emotions and identity, and some have recently focused on cultural identity. One's heritage would seem to be especially stable and impervious to change, simply because it's been passed down generation after generation and is deeply ingrained in the collective psyche. But how deeply, exactly?

Scientists have long been interested in the interplay of emotions and identity, and some have recently focused on cultural identity. One's heritage would seem to be especially stable and impervious to change, simply because it's been passed down generation after generation and is deeply ingrained in the collective psyche. But how deeply, exactly?

Psychologists Claire Ashton-James of the University of British Columbia, William W. Maddux from INSEAD, Adam Galinsky of Northwestern University, and Tanya Chartrand from Duke University decided to explore this intriguing question in the laboratory, to see if even something as potent as culture might be tied to normal mood swings. European cultures are known to value independence and individuality, whereas Asian cultures prize community and harmony. This fundamental East-West cultural difference is well established, and so offered the researchers an ideal test.

The volunteers consisted of students hailing from a number of different countries and the researchers unconsciously raised or lowered their moods via two different methods. In one study, the volunteers listened to some upbeat Mozart on the stereo to lift their moods, or some Rachmaninov to bring them down. In another study, the volunteers held pens in their mouths: Some held the pen with their teeth, which basically forces the face into a smile, which improves mood. Others held the pen with their lips, forcing a frown. Then the volunteers completed a variety of tests, each designed to measure the strength of their values. In one test, the volunteers were offered a choice of five pens, four blue and one red. In keeping with cultural values, Asians typically pick from the more common blue pens in this test — to be part of the group — while Westerners usually take the one red pen. In another test, the volunteers thought about the questions "Who am I?" and listed 20 answers. The lists were analyzed to see if they reflected predominantly individualistic or predominantly group values.

The results, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, were consistent for all of the tests: Feeling good did indeed encourage the volunteers — both European and Asian — to explore values that are inconsistent with their cultural norms. And elevated mood even shaped behavior, allowing volunteers to act "out of character." These findings suggest that people in an upbeat mood are more exploratory and daring in attitude — and therefore more apt to break from cultural stereotype. That is, Asians act more independently than usual, and Europeans are more cooperative. Feeling bad did the opposite: It reinforced traditional cultural stereotypes and constrained both Western and Eastern thinking about the world.

The researchers note these results suggest that emotions may serve an important social purpose. They surmise that positive feelings may send a signal that it's safe to broaden one's view of the world — and to explore novel notions of one's self. The researchers go on to indicate that negative feelings may do the opposite: They may send a signal that it's time to circle the wagons and stick with the "tried and true." They conclude that the findings also suggest that the "self" may not be as robust and static as we like to believe and that the self may be dynamic, constructed again and again from one's situation, heritage and mood.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ashton-James et al. Who I Am Depends on How I Feel: The Role of Affect in the Expression of Culture. Psychological Science, 2009; 20 (3): 340 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02299.x

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "How We Feel Linked To Both Our Culture And How We Behave." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090414153538.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2009, April 19). How We Feel Linked To Both Our Culture And How We Behave. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090414153538.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "How We Feel Linked To Both Our Culture And How We Behave." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090414153538.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) Researchers found an improvement in memory and learning function in subjects who received electric pulses to their brains. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins