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Emotion. 2019 Sep 16. doi: 10.1037/emo0000683. [Epub ahead of print]

Feelings in the body: Cultural variations in the somatic concomitants of affective experience.

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Department of Psychology.
Department of Psychology, Concordia University.


Affective science research has investigated how the sociocultural context shapes the bodily experience of emotion. Similarly, in the culture and mental health literature, there is a history of research on cultural variations in the presentation of somatic symptoms. A well-known example of the latter is the finding that Chinese depressed patients report more somatic symptoms compared to their "Western" counterparts. The present study represents a first step toward integrating these efforts. We examined reports of somatic and affective changes in 48 Chinese/Chinese American (CH) and 53 European American (EA) women responding to a sad film. Although CH and EA women reported experiencing similar levels of sadness, CH women experienced higher levels of somatic sensations (e.g., changes in heartbeat) relative to EA women. CH participants' reports of somatic changes were negatively associated with orientation to American culture. These findings suggest that cultural context shapes the subjective experience of somatic changes associated with sadness. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).


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