Beyond essentialism: Cultural differences in emotions revisited.

The current research offers an alternative to essentialism for studying cultural variation in emotional experience. Rather than assuming that individuals always experience an emotion in the same way, our starting point was that the experience of an emotion like anger or shame may vary from one instance to another. We expected to find different anger and shame experience types, that is, groups of people who differ in the instances of anger and shame that they experience. We proposed that studying cultural differences in emotional experience means studying differences in the distribution of these types across cultural contexts: There should be systematic differences in the types that are most common in each culture. Students from the United States, Japan, and Belgium (N = 928) indicated their emotional experiences in terms of appraisals and action tendencies in response to 15 hypothetical anger or shame situations. Using an inductive clustering approach, we identified anger and shame types who were characterized by different patterns of anger and shame experience. As expected, we found that the distribution of these types differed across the three cultural contexts: Of the two anger types, one was common in Japan and one in the United States and Belgium; the three shame types were each most prevalent in a different cultural context. Participants’ anger and shame types were primarily predicted by their culture of origin (with an accuracy of 72.3% for anger and 74.0% for shame) and not, or much less, by their ethnic origin, socioeconomic status, gender, self-construal, or personality. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)