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Culture has a direct influence on how its members express their emotions and perceive time. This paper uses two cultures, African and Asian ones, to discuss this influence. The two cultures selected differ in many ways, including geographical location, historical background, languages spoken, and religious beliefs.
As such, the two cultures have various values and attitudes. African culture emphasizes individualism, as opposed to Asian culture which focuses on collectivism (Matsumoto, 2001).
According to Matsumoto (2001), each culture has norms, attitudes, and beliefs that affect how its members express their emotions. While Asians are a bit reserved when displaying emotions associated with good news, Africans openly express such emotions by smiling broadly (Lewis, Takai-Kawakami, Kawakami and Sullivan, 2010).
Africans show positive emotions through happiness and excitement while Asians express such feelings in a calm and peaceful emotion because they believe that displaying emotions should not attract much attention (Lewis et al., 2010). As such, suppression of emotions would not have any negative psychological consequence among Asians, but would result in feelings of guilt, stress, depression, and low self-esteem among Africans.
Happy events, such as births and marriages, have a tendency of making people joyful, but some persons may feel sad depending on their culture (Lewis et al., 2010). Africans generally feel happy when celebrating such events, but Asians might have mixed emotions.
The reason is that Asians normally involve themselves in conversations that tolerate change and contradiction during happy events. Similarly, Africans express emotions of sadness freely, unlike Asians that have restrictions when grieving over sad events, like deaths.
Perception of Time
Time is a vital aspect of human experience. Temporal behavior, including life pace, time metaphors as well as duration and perception of the past, present, and the future, varies across cultures (Hill, Block and Buggie, 2000). Culture also influences how people feel about physical and personal time.
For instance, African culture does not place much emphasis on punctuality, but Asian culture considers punctuality to be vital. While both cultures believe in physical time, there exist clear differences when it comes to personal time. Asians perceive personal time as an investment, and therefore they prefer not to start a conversation as a way of passing time if it is unlikely to end.
On the other hand, Africans will not mind starting a conversation that, as they know, will not come to a logical end, since they do not perceive personal time as a valuable investment.
Furthermore, African culture attaches great importance to the present and the future while Asian culture considers the past to be of the utmost significance, as Asians believe that the past shapes the present and the future (Hill et al., 2000).
Both cultures believe in and remember time duration. This happens because they carry out events and activities only for a given period. Asians are, however, monochronic, which means that they only do one thing at a time and fully concentrate on it ((Hill et al., 2000).
They adhere to a timetable and spend the least time possible when performing activities. On the contrary, Africans, especially women, believe in multitasking to complete many activities within a short timeframe (Hill et al., 2000). Unlike Asians, Africans do not follow timetables and they can easily switch between activities, so long as they are all completed regardless of the time taken.
Hill, O.W., Block, R.A., Buggie, S. E. (2000). Culture and beliefs among black American, black Africans and white Americans. The Journal of Psychology, 134(4), 443-461.
Lewis, M., Takai-Kawakami, K., Kawakami, K. & Sullivan, M.W. (2010). Cultural differences in emotional responses to success and failure. International Journal of Behavioral Development 34(1), 53-61.
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Matsumoto, D. (Eds.). (2001). The handbook of culture and psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.