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Psychol Bull. 1992 Sep;112(2):179-204.

Cultural variations in emotions: a review.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The psychological and anthropological literature on cultural variations in emotions is reviewed. The literature has been interpreted within the framework of a cognitive-process model of emotions. Both cross-cultural differences and similarities were identified in each phase of the emotion process; similarities in 1 phase do not necessarily imply similarities in other phases. Whether cross-cultural differences or similarities are found depends to an important degree on the level of description of the emotional phenomena. Cultural differences in emotions appear to be due to differences in event types or schemas, in culture-specific appraisal propensities, in behavior repertoires, or in regulation processes. Differences in taxonomies of emotion words sometimes reflect true emotion differences like those just mentioned, but they may also just result from differences in which emotion-process phase serves as the basis for categorization.

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