Culture And Communication

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Culture and Communication

Culture and Communication

Psychologists today increasingly view emotion as a safeguard of survival and an enrichment of experience throughout development. Emotional expression provides a powerful communication system? one that is especially important in the early childhood stage of life before language has been developed. (Davidson? 1990) As these developments proceed? voice? face? gesture? and posture continue to communicate feelings to others and to influence their behaviour.

Ways of expressing emotion may be either innate or culturally acquired. Certain facial expressions? such as smiling? have been found to be universal? even among blind persons? who have no means of imitating them. Other expressions vary across cultures. For example? the Chinese stick out their tongues to register surprise? in contrast to Americans and other Westerners? who raise their eyebrows and widen their eyes. In addition to the ways of communicating various emotions? people within a culture also learn certain unwritten codes governing emotional expression itself-what emotions can be openly expressed and under what circumstances. (Davidson? 1990) Cultural forces also influence how people describe and categorise what they are feeling. An emotion that is commonly recognised in one society may be subsumed under another emotion in a different one. Some cultures? for example? do not distinguish between anger and sadness. Tahitians? who have no word for either sadness or guilt? have 46 words for various types of anger.

In daily life? emotional arousal may have beneficial or disruptive effects? depending on the situation and the intensity of the emotion. Moderate levels of arousal increase efficiency levels by making people more alert. However? intense emotions-either positive or negative-interfere with performance because central nervous system responses are channelled in too many directions at once. The effects of arousal on performance also depend on the difficulty of the task at hand; emotions interfere less with simple tasks than with more complicated ones.

In 1884? William James publishes an article in a philosophy journal. The article was named 'What is an emotion?'

James stated that emotion was a sequence of events that starts with stimulus and concludes with a feeling? a conscious emotional experience. The main question James focused on was 'Do we run from a bear because we are afraid or are we afraid because we run?

He proposed that the obvious answer? that we run because we are afraid? was incorrect and instead argued that we are afraid because we run:

Stimulus Response Feeling

(Bear) (Run) (Fear)

The essence of James proposal was simple. Emotions are often accompanied by bodily responses (increase in heartbeat? perspiring? erratic breathing). Since different emotions have different responses? the feedback to the brain is different and would? according to James? account for how we feel in such situations.

In 1885? Carl Lange independently proposed a theory? very similar to that of James. From then on? the theory became known as the James-Lange theory. (Davidson? 1990)

According to James the brain interprets a situation in such a way that physiological responses are called for? but the interpretation is not necessarily conscious until the physical responses ...
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