REGULATIONS OF EMOTIONS 4
The idea of cultural universality posits that some cultures ortraits are common to all societies around the world. Some culturaluniversals can include music, feasting, cooking, dancing, toolmaking, housing and such other practices (Haine, 2006). In the caseof two societies such as France and Kenya, cultural universalityholds that the two societies have similar cultures. In regards toemotional experiences, cultural universality holds that the twosocieties have a common culture courtesy of sharing such emotionalactivities (Barsby, 2010). This is captured by the six basic emotionsof happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, and surprise. The factthat people in Kenya and France have a way of expressing andacknowledging these emotions means that that they share culture undercultural universality (Tsai, n.d). However, this approach fails toeffectively explain how specifically these different culturesexperience these emotions. It also explains that emotions areuniversal but fails to indicate how emotions are experienced,perceived, regulated and expressed uniquely (Haine, 2006).
In the case of Kenya, some communities have developed unique ways ofexperiencing, expressing, regulating and displaying the same emotionswhich are different from the methods used in France (Tsai, n.d). Forinstance, among the pastoralist community of the Maasai, happiness isexpressed through smiles, jumping up and down and other means such asululations (Barsby, 2010). While smiling as emotional expressionmaybe universal, ululations are not and are specific to the Maasai inthis case. On the other hand, among the Kipsigis tribe of Kenyaliving in the Rift Valley, children are discouraged from expressingtheir emotions and adults distract them whenever they attempt to doso. Doing so de-emphasizes internal and personal attributes and makesthem more community-oriented (Ratner, 2000). This differs greatlywith the situation in France and other western countries which tendto encourage children to express their emotions such as fears inlife. By encouraging them to do so, parents hope that they can helpthe children tackle these fears (ibid). It thus clear that thoughemotions are universal in these two societies, the culturaluniversality concept does not effectively explain unique experiencesof these emotions (Tsai, n.d).
Cultural display rules concept is better placed to explain theemotional experiences unique to a particular culture (Haine, 2006).Display rules are just unwritten codes or guidelines that directmembers of a cultural or social group on how, where and where toexpress or withhold emotions. Additionally, the rules may further beinternalized as a function of family background, socioeconomicstatus, age or even gender (Barsby, 2010). However, the internalizedcultural display is still part of the larger national or societyculture. Other divisions might be geographical, religious or evenother special interest groups.
In the case of Kenya and France, cultural display rules are veryeffective in explaining the emotional experiences unique to aparticular culture. In France for instance, kisses on the cheek canbe used as greetings or goodbyes (Ratner, 2000). Usually, the lips donot touch the cheek but the kissing sound is made. However, thepractice is not very common amongst men. Additionally, the number ofkisses on either cheek may vary from two to four depending on theregion in the country. Hugging and holding of hand is also commonbetween friends or family. For couples, caressing in public is alsomuch acceptable in France (Haine, 2006). In Kenya on the other hand,the society has strict rules on cultural display. Kissing in publicor caressing in public is prohibited with those engaging in suchdisplay likely to be looked down upon (Barsby, 2010). It is thusclear that cultural universality does not effectively explain theemotional experiences unique to a particular culture but culturaldisplay rule achieves this goal.
Barsby, J. (2010). Kenya – culture smart! The essential guide tocustoms & culture. London:
Haine, W. (2006). Culture and customs of France. New York:Greenwood Publishing Group,
Ratner, C. (2000). A cultural-psychological analysis of emotions.Culture of psychology. 6:5-39.
Tsai, J. (n.d.). The cultural shaping of emotion (and otherfeelings). Retrieved from