A Psychologist Plumbs the Cultural Roots of Emotion

Emily Cataneo in Undark:

For many years, psychologists and other scientists believed that deep down, all of humankind experienced the same set of evolutionarily hard-wired emotions. Under this schema, anger, for example, was a concrete, immutable experience that happens deep inside all human beings, the same for a White American sipping coffee in Manhattan as for native Siberian herding reindeer. When Batja Mesquita, a key figure in the development of the field of cultural psychology, started researching emotion more than 30 years ago, she was confident that this model was correct. But Mesquita, who is today a distinguished professor at the University of Leuven in Belgium, has come to view emotions through a completely different lens. In her new book, “Between Us: How Cultures Create Emotions,” Mesquita makes a provocative argument that when it comes to emotions, we are not all the same. “Are other people angry, happy, and scared, just like you?” she queries. “And are your feelings just like theirs? I do not think so.”

More here.