Culture influences what we ideally want to feel:

Excitement vs Calm

Dr. Jeanne Tsai, of Stanford University, talks about their studies on how cultural ideas and practices shape our emotions.

In summary, she discusses shows that her culture and emotion lab has found that, in comparisons between the US and Chinese Culture that the US values and excitement and high arousal states and Chinese Culture values calm and serenity.

choosing emotions

They have looked at the emotions that characters in best-selling fictional books experience in both cultures and noticed the pattern of the culture here.   Cultural products help train us in what to aspire to as emotions to feel more of.

If you think about Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon vs any Hollywood movie we can think of, you can see the difference.

I would love to see some studies that cross-reference between the emotions that cultures 'hold up' more and the figures of mental health and wellbeing.  Having recently also read that in Japan, there is only 14% of the incidence of PTSD compared to the US.  (More about that here).

What do you think Australian cultural products, like movies, and best-selling books hold out as the emotions that define a good life and good person?  I don’t think Australians are as high on the ‘high arousal’ emotions as the US culture holds up, but what are we high on do you think?


About the Author

I am a qualified Coach (ICF PCC level) with over 16 years of professional experience as a Coach working in both organisational and personal development. I am also a Coach Trainer, the only person able to deliver the practical units of the Master of Arts Neuro Coaching in Australia.