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Emotional Culture

Posted by Donna Tate on 1/10/2016 to Facilitator Recommendations

Measuring Emotional Culture

The research is found in the paper entitled, Emotional Complexity: Clarifying Definitions and Cultural Correlates.  This research suggests that, at the root of the personality trait lies “dialectical belief systems” or the “teaching of the complementarity of opposites” (e.g. ying-yang principle) (Grossmann, 2015).  EMOTIONS then, are a part of that. 

All manner of terms have been used by psychologists over the years, to describe this teaching of the cultural opposites - the complementary opposite, for example, of independence v. interdependence (Markus, 1991), ego v. socio-centrism (Shweder, 1993), individualism v. collectivism (Hofstede G. , 1980) (Triandis, 1989) and so on.  But, in this paper Grossman, Huynh and Ellsworth, more accurately define and adopt “independence v. interdependence”.  It is with the more typically Western societies / cultures that we see more often, Independence – “that is seeing ones emotions as reflecting the inner self.” (Grossmann, 2015)  It is with the East Asian societies / cultures that we see more often,  INTER DEPENDENCE – “that is focusing… on the wishes and concerns of others, including the EMOTIONS of other people in their group – seeing one’s emotions as originating through interactions with other people…” (Grossmann, 2015)  From this INTERDEPENDENCE springs emotional complexity.  “A person who is sensitive to the emotions of the group….may be more likely to notice subtle differences in their feelings (emotional differentiation), including differences in valence (emotional dialecticism).”  (Grossmann, 2015).

The research of the role of culture and influence on emotions is welcome in this world of yet one more personality / behavioral assessment - with more being added daily.  Inscape DiSC was mentioned earlier as one that includes cultural correlates.  But with Professional and Personal Coaching exploding exponentially, each one with it's own assessment - trainers, HR, facilitators and administrators are hard pressed to keep up with which ones are scientifically sound, and which ones are more like reading the tea leaves.  Grossman, Huynh and Ellsworth help tremendously with this much needed "Clarification". 

And what about Emotional Intelligence, Emotional Culture, and a personal favorite of many -   Experiential Education?  What light does this research shed upon these training and development axioms and the relationship one to the other?  There are those in the training and development world who would espouse that they are unrelated, or at best, related only from a distance.  Grossman, et al, brings to us the research and science – the EMOTIONAL COMPLEXITY clarified with CULTURAL CORRELATES. 


Grossmann, I. H. (2015). Emotional Complexity: Clarifying Definitions and Cultural. Journal of Personality and Psychology, http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000084.

Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values. Beverly Hills,: Sage Publications.

Inscape Publishing, Inc. (2008). Everything DiSC Classic, DiSC Theory. In Everything DiSC Facilitation System (pp. DiSC Theory - 1-17 through 1-20). Minneapolis, MN: Inscape Publishing, Inc.

Markus, H. R. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications. Psychological Review, 98, 224-253.

Shweder, R. A. (1993). Cultural psychology: Who needs it? Annual Review of Psychology, 44, 497-523.

Triandis, H. C. (1989). The self and social behavior in differing cultural contexts. Psychological Review, 96, 269-289.


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