JoLIE 4/2011

Back to issue page






Cornelia Maria Leu

David Prodan High School of Cugir, Romania






Emotions are expressed in everyday language in order for people to value the events and phenomena surrounding them. Emotion words bear various meanings depending on the context. Happiness, sadness, shame or love, all of them define us and shape our social interaction with the others. Our feelings are considered a link between the social and the cultural. They express the manner in which people act, think and behave when engaged in cultural activities. The well-being of a person is determined by many factors which are crucial at the crossroads between cultural and social aspects. Members of the cultural community fully participate in social relationships. Positive feelings connect the self with the others whereas negative emotions block one’s goals and desires. People generally tend to feel good when they are legitimate members of a cultural community, which leads to a state of well-being. Emotions such as pride or anger tend to distance individuals from their social fellows whereas feelings such as friendliness or guilt promote harmony. Emotions cannot be separated from the socio-cultural contexts in which we find ourselves. They adjust our reactions to the life experiences we have to cope with.


Keywords: Emotions; Culture; Well-Being.





Armon-Jones, C. (1986). The thesis of constructionism. In R. Harre (Ed.), The social construction of emotions (pp. 3256). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.


Butler, E. A., Lee, T. L., & Gross, J. J. (2007). Emotion regulation and culture: Are the social consequences of emotion suppression culture-specific? Emotion, 7(1), 3048. DOI:  


Camras, L. (1992). Expressive development and basic emotions. Cognition and Emotion, 6(3-4), 269283. DOI: 10.1080/02699939208411072


Chodorow, N. J. (1999). The power of feelings: Personal meaning in psychoanalysis, gender and culture. New Haven: Yale University Press.


Fillmore, C. J. (1977). Topics in lexical semantics. In R W. Cole (Ed.), Current issues in linguistic theory (pp. 76138). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.


Kim, H., & Sherman, D. K. (2007). “Express yourself”: Culture and the effect of self- expression on choice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, January, 92(1), 111. DOI:


Kitayama, S. (2002). Culture and basic psychological processes - Toward a system view of culture: Comment on Oyserman et al. Psychological Bulletin, 128(1), 8996. DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.128.1.89


Kroeber, A.L., & Kluckholm, C.K. (1952). Culture: A critical review of concepts and definitions. New York: Random House.


Lakoff, G., & Kovecses, J (1987). In D. Holland, & N. Quinn, (Eds.), Cultural models in language and thought (pp.195222). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Lutz, C. A. (1986). Emotion, thought and estrangement: Emotion as a cultural category. Cultural Anthropology, 1(3), 287309. DOI:


Lutz, C. A. (1988). Unnatural emotions: Everyday sentiments on a Micronesian attol & their challenge to Western theory. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 


Markus, H. S., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion and motivation. Psychological Review, 98(2), 224253. DOI:


Matsumoto, D., Nakagawa, S., & Yoo, S. H. (2008). Culture, emotion regulation and adjustment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94(6), 925937. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.94.6.925


Mesquita, B., & Walker, R. (2003). Cultural differences in emotions: A context for interpreting emotional experiences. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 41(7), 777793. DOI:    


Quinn, N. (1982). ’Commitment’ in American marriage: A cultural analysis. American Ethnologist, 9(4), 775798. DOI:


Ratner, C. (2000). A cultural- psychological analysis of emotions. Culture and Psychology 6(1), 5-39. DOI:


Richards, J. M., & Gross, J. J. (2000). Emotion regulation and memory: The cognitive costs of keeping one’s cool. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79(3), 410424. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.79.3.410  


Rosaldo, M. Z. (1984). Toward an anthropology of self and feeling. In R. A. Shweder, & R. A. LeVine (Eds.), Culture theory: Essays on mind, self and emotion (pp. 137157). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 


Russell, J. A. (1991). Culture and the categorization of emotions. Psychological Bulletin, 110(3), 426450. DOI:   


Schieffelin, E. (1983). Anger and shame in the tropical forest: On affect as a cultural system in Papua New Guinea. Ethos, 11(3), 181191. DOI: 10.1525/eth.1983.11.3.02a00060


Schlaeger, J. (Ed.). (2000). Yearbook of research in English and American literature: Representation of emotional excess (Vol. 16). Tubingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.


Solomon, R. (1978). Emotions and anthropology. The logic of emotional world views. Inquiry, 21(1-4), 181199. DOI: 10.1080/00201747808601841



How to cite this articleLeu, C. (2011). Emotions as dynamic cultural phenomenaJournal of Linguistic and Intercultural Education – JoLIE, 4, 6576. DOI:



For details on subscription, go to: