Sobering Advice for anyone contemplating a cross-cultural marriage | Joe Larabell
Arousal level of actual and ideal emotions has consistently been found to have cross-cultural differences. In Western or individualist culture, high arousal. A British study of the informal rules of 22 social relationships was replicated among Japanese, Hong Kong and Italian samples. Subjects were asked to rate the. Cross-cultural relationships are nothing new in our society. Cultural differences add spice to a relationship. they managed to compromise on the specific roles of each partner and the extent In-laws would be involved.
In fact, Kacen and Lee 41 conducted a cross-cultural study comparing Caucasians and Asians. Researchers used an arousal scale composed of four bipolar items, which consists of emotion adjectives representing different arousal levels. Emotion items in the arousal scale were stimulated—relaxed reversedcalm—excited, frenzied—sluggish reversedand unaroused—aroused.
The result showed that Caucasians were more likely to be in high arousal emotional states i. In addition, Tsai and colleagues 42 reported that the closer the participants to American rather than Chinese cultural orientation, the higher their cardiovascular arousal level during interpersonal tasks.
Another example of the difference of actual arousal levels of emotional experiences between individualist and collectivist cultures can be found from emotion scale research. Affect scales measuring positive and negative emotional experiences developed in America consist mostly of high arousal emotions. This is because emotion scale items are selected based on the emotional experience of people of their own cultural background. This suggests that American people experience high arousal emotions more than low arousal emotions.
Furthermore, cultural differences are also found in physiological and behavioral aspects of emotion. Research conducted by Scherer et al 54 showed that Japanese participants, compared with American and European participants, reported significantly fewer physiological symptoms.
Mesquita and Frijda 2 suggested that one possible explanation is that their physiological reactions in emotions are actually different. In addition, behaviors corresponding to emotional arousal level differ by culture. Westerners prefer to participate in more active sports than Easterners to elicit high arousal emotions.
For example, Western mothers are reported to encourage their children to play games that increase emotional arousal level. According to Schwartz, 46 individualism and independent self-construal are closely related to stimulation values.
Sobering Advice for anyone contemplating a cross-cultural marriage
Individuals who have strong stimulation values are motivated to live an exciting and varied life, and to seek novelty and challenges in life. Behaviors derived from these goals are likely to induce high arousal emotions. Therefore, Schwartz's 46 study indirectly support that high arousal emotions are more frequently experienced in Western culture than in Eastern culture.
This is also in line with the fact that impulsiveness and sensation-seeking behavior, which are closely related to emotional arousal, 47 are also more profound in individualist countries than in collectivist countries. From this standpoint, excessive emotional experience can be harmful and cause diseases, no matter how positive the emotions are. Conclusion Emotional arousal is a fundamental and important dimension of affective experience, along with valence.
Findings consistently support cultural differences in the levels of emotional arousal between the West and the East. Westerners value, promote, and experience high arousal emotions more than low arousal emotions, whereas the vice versa is true for Easterners.
Cross cultural relationships - dealing with differences.
As discussed above, emotion has a biological base. In addition, two fundamental dimensions of emotion, valence and arousal, are related to physiological aspect as well as brain activities. Therefore, cultural differences in emotion, especially in arousal level of emotion, can also have implications in other adjacent areas, such as neuroscience and science of medicine.
However, so far only a few researches on this aspect of emotion have been conducted in Asian medicine. As mentioned above, findings about emotion in psychology literature and Asian medicine are in line, in that Korean medicine cautions against excessive emotional activation, which can be translated as high emotional arousals in psychology.
However, compared with studies on cultural differences in norms about emotional arousal level, fewer studies on cultural differences in emotional arousal level, per se, have been conducted, especially those with physiological measures. Therefore, additional research on cultural differences of emotional arousal level from the perspective of Asian medicine may become the stepping stone to an integrative medicine research on Asian medicine and psychology.
Conflicts of interest The author has no conflict of interest to disclose. On the universality and cultural specificity of emotion recognition: Cultural variation in emotions: Is there universal recognition of emotion from facial expression? A review of the cross-cultural studies. Human motivation and emotion. Innate and universal facial expressions: Universals and cultural differences in facial expressions of emotion.
Nebraska symposium on motivation. Antecedents of and reactions to emotions in the United States and Japan. J Cross Cult Psychol.
Cross cultural relationships
Culture and the self: American—Japanese cultural differences in intensity ratings of facial expressions of emotion. University of Chicago Press; Chicago: Emotion talk across cultures. The social construction of emotions. Basil Blackwell; Oxford, England: The pursuit of happiness and the realization of sympathy: Culture and subjective well-being. Culture, emotion, and well-being: Cultural variation in affect valuation.
J Pers Soc Psychol. The psychological measurement of cultural syndromes. The what, how, why, and where of self-construal.
Pers Soc Psychol Rev. Does culture influence what and how we think? Effects of Priming individualism and collectivism. Never underestimate the depth of the roots of your own upbringing. But no matter how deep you dig, you will always be you. Your beliefs, your emotions, your priorities, in short, your whole approach to life, are shaped by the culture in which you were brought up.
This leads to the obvious: Some degree of cross-pollenization is bound to occur between two people who share an intimate relationship but when you start to expect change, then you start to get into big trouble. The best thing you can do for each other is to acknowledge the fact that conflicts will occur and will often occur for the simplest and most unexpected reasons.
That said, it should be quite obvious that you will want to find out as much as you possibly can about your potential partner and his or her lifestyle. You would be surprised how much is taken for granted in typical marriages, even among partners of the same background. Make sure you discuss with your partner every aspect of your future life together.
Those areas are often the most important things to discuss. And that brings me to the next rule: If your partner refuses to discuss a subject openly, treat that as a big red flag and find out why.
The beliefs people hold most dear are the ones which they are least likely to want to discuss with someone else. Well, the term common sense covers a lot of ground and is often based on those underlying assumptions we have been trying so hard not to look at.
The only things that are actually common are things like not standing in front of a speeding truck or not walking into an empty elevator shaft.
Make it a point to talk about some tough topics like money, raising children, where to live, etc.
Look, the stuff is going to come up sooner or later. Start an argument or two. No amount of love or respect is going to keep your ship from hitting the icebergs of life. You might as well know whether you will be able to work together toward a solution when the inevitable crisis comes up. Make sure that, between the two of you, there is at least one language in which you are both fluent. This is very important.
As a test, try taking some very subtle feeling or belief and explain it to your potential mate. Have him or her explain it back. If there is not a substantial understanding of what you explained, watch out. If either of you are unable to explain the subtle emotions that come up in a relationship without causing some misunderstanding, then you will be in for a very hard, if not impossible, road through life.
Wait a while until one or the other of you is able to achieve a good degree of fluency in the others language. After all, would you hook up permanently with someone whose face you had never seen? Not many of us would.
Then how come we will so readily hook up with a partner whose soul we have never seen? Examine your own motives.
Cross cultural relationships - Counselling Directory
Is this someone you would hook up with even if you were safe and happy in your own country? If you are the partner who is trying to live in another culture, remember this: Culture shock can do funny things to a normally rational mind.
What you have is a parent or a teacher, not a lover.