Can you see an angry face?

It’s been thought for a long time that there are some emotions we all experience no matter where we come from but recently that idea is starting to change.

The common research approach had been to show people photos of faces displaying emotion (like these pictures) but it seems that there are some biases in this way this research tool has been used.

Recent research described in Professor Lisa Feldman-Barrat’s fascinating book suggests that emotions are shaped by language and culture much more than we used to think.

The way we talk about an emotion like anger varies a lot. Russian speakers have two different words to refer to ‘anger at a person’ and ‘anger at a situation’. German speakers have three different words to describe the concept of anger and Mandarin speakers have five!

In Micronesia emotion is expressed not as an individual experience but as an interaction between people. The Himda tribe in New Guinea express emotion as a behaviour rather than a feeling. This diversity shows that we have can have more control over our emotions than we often think.

As a hypnotherapist I support many clients in understanding and regulating their emotions more effectively. Contact me to find out more.

Reference: Feldman-Barret, L (2018) ‘How emotions are made: the secret life of the brain’ (2018).

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