Positive and negative emotions across cultures

I came across a radio program yesterday that referenced a new study – cross-cultural recognition of basic emotions through nonverbal emotional vocalizations.

You can read the abstract here but in essence, the researchers studied how very different cultures (Western cultures compared with individuals from remote, culturally isolated Namibian villages) used non-verbal responses to express emotions.

They found that vocalizations communicating several negative emotions Рanger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise were recognized across both cultures. By contrast, most positive emotions are communicated with culture-specific signals.

If this is more widely true it has consequences for cross-cultural communication: do we read negative emotions easily but have more difficulty picking up the positives from someone from a very different culture? Maybe we need to be more explicit when expressing positives in a cross cultural context.

Article cited: Cross-cultural recognition of basic emotions through nonverbal emotional vocalizations. by Disa A. Sautera, Frank Eisnerc, Paul Ekmand and Sophie K. Scott in Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences, January 25, 2010.

Educate yourself further with a few more or our online insights:

25 years of experience learning with a range of world class clients

We work with a wide range of clients from global multinationals to recent start-ups. Our audiences span all levels, from CEOs to operational teams around the world.  Our tools and programs have been developed for diverse and demanding audiences.

View more of our clients
Two woman talking with a cup of coffee

Tailored training or off the shelf modules for your people development needs

We are deep content experts in remote, virtual and hybrid working, matrix management and agile & digital leadership. We are highly flexible in how we deliver our content and ideas. We can tailor content closely to your specific needs or deliver off the shelf bite sized modules based on our existing IP and 25 years of training experience.

For more about how we deliver our keynotes, workshops, live web seminars and online learning.

Discover our training solutions