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We used multiple methods to examine two questions about emotion and culture: (1) Which facial expressions are recognised cross-culturally; and (2) does the “forced-choice” method lead to spurious findings of universality? Forty participants in the US and 40 in India were shown 14 facial expressions and asked to say what had happened to cause the person to make the face. Analyses of the social situations given and of the affect words spontaneously used showed high levels of recognition for most of the expressions. A subsequent forced-choice task using the same faces confirmed these findings. Analysis of the pattern of magnitude, discreteness, and similarity of responses across cultures and expressions led to the conclusion that there is no neat distinction between cross-culturally recognisable and nonrecognisable expressions. Results are better described as a gradient of recognition.
Resting respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSAREST) indexes important aspects of individual differences in emotionality. In the present investigation, the authors address whether RSAREST is associated with tonic positive or negative emotionality, and whether RSAREST relates to phasic emotional responding to discrete positive emotion-eliciting stimuli. Across an 8-month, multiassessment study of first-year university students (n = 80), individual differences in RSAREST were associated with positive but not negative tonic emotionality, assessed at the level of personality traits, long-term moods, the disposition toward optimism, and baseline reports of current emotional states. RSAREST was not related to increased positive emotion, or stimulus-specific emotion, in response to compassion-, awe-, or pride-inducing stimuli. These findings suggest that resting RSA indexes aspects of a person's tonic positive emotionality.
In this paper we integrate claims and findings concerning the social functions of emotions at the individual, dyadic, group, and cultural levels of analysis. Across levels of analysis theorists assume that emotions solve problems important to social relationships in the context of ongoing interactions. Theorists diverge, however, in their assumptions about the origins, defining characteristics, and consequences of emotions, and in their preferred forms of data. We illustrate the differences and compatibilities among these levels of analysis for the specific case of embarrassment. We close by suggesting research strategies that incorporate a social-functional perspective.