Affect and Culture

Manfred Holodynski and Wolfgang Friedlmeier

in The Oxford Handbook of Culture and Psychology

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195396430
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Affect and Culture

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  • Social Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology



The chapter starts with an overview of the ongoing debate between evolutionary and culture-relativistic approaches and their contributions to describing and explaining cultural similarities and differences in emotions. As a theoretical and methodological completion of existing approaches, the chapter highlights the importance of an integrative developmental perspective on the ontogenetic emergence of emotions, in identifying the ontogenetic roots of their cultural similarities and differences. A developmental perspective can also serve as a validation of indigenous approaches, as well as for cross-cultural comparisons of adult emotions. This approach focuses on emotional expressions as a culturally constructed sign system that mediates between the cultural and psychological spheres. The acquisition of expression signs in interpersonal interaction leads to a transformation of biologically determined precursor emotions of neonates into the culturally functional and differentiated emotions of adults. Such an approach facilitates the identification of constitutive components of culturally differentiated emotions and their constitutive sociocultural factors that channel common and culture-specific pathways of emotional development.

Keywords: body language; emotional development; emotion regulation; emotions; emotion socialization; nonverbal communication; parent-child communication; sociocultural factors

Article.  21873 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology

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