A phenomenological study of emotional experience
The rationale for performing this study on emotions centers on the general importance of emotions to human life, and its relevance to psychotherapeutic techniques of emotional control.
A model of the emotion process modified from other theorists' models is presented which takes into consideration both cultural influence and universal aspects of the emotion process. In this model, the construction, in the Kellian sense, of emotion is assumed to affect the emotional experience. Members of each culture may have a way of emotion construction, unique to their culture, which may affect the effectiveness of psychotherapeutic emotional control techniques when applied across cultures. Thus there is the need to investigate the construction of emotions by members of each culture.
The influences of the traditional Chinese culture on constructions of emotion are discussed, in a attempt to pinpoint the probable characteristics of the Chinese construction of emotions.
An explorative study was designed to investigate certain aspects of the Chinese construction of emotions, focusing on three areas: 1) the kind of events that elicited emotions from the Chinese subjects; 2) the names or labels the subjects used to represent verbally their emotions; and 3) the genera] characteristics of their emotional experiences and their ways of coping with emotions.
Two groups of subjects participated in this study. 1) a group of 20 local aciult subjects and 2) 69 psychology students of the
University of Hong Kong. The first was given in-depth interviews while questionnaire were administered to the second group. The student subjects were further subdivided into two subgroups, one answering in Chinese, the "Chinese questionnaire group", and one answering in English, the "English questionnaire group".
The interview and the questionnaire were structured in similar formats. The subjects were asked to report personal emotional experience ;to label the emotions, and to rate their experiences on seven dimensions selected by the author beforehand.
The results ot the study revealed a number of interesting findings. Negative emotions were reported more often than positive emotions. This may be explained with reference to Chinese culture. Different kinds of emotion elicitors were reported by the interview group and the questionnaire group. The three groups reported some common emotions and other emotions that was unique to one group only. Some particular emotions that were commonly reported among Chinese but not among members of other cultures. The interview group was unable to rate their emotions on the seven dimensions presented by the interviewer. The only dimension that they had no difficulty in indicating the polarity was the pleasant-unpleasant dimension. The questionnaire group on the other hand was able to provide full ratings on all dimensions. Thus it appeared that the pleasant-unpleasant dimension was the only dimension that was definitely present in the subjects' construction of emotion. Finally general characteristics of the subjects1 report on their emotional experiences are discussed.
Some of the coping strategies used by the subjects are also presented. Comparison was made between the interview group and the questionnaire group. It appeared that the interview group has a less intricate and more global construction of emotion. The questionnaire group relied more on intellectualization to elicit and cope with their emotions.
Differences in cultural heritage was not the only variable among the three groups. The sex composition, age, and education was also different between the interview and the questionnaire groups. Since there are no similarly designed studies in other cultures, the author cannot ascertain whether the similarities and the differences found between the groups are reflective of universality or of cultural influences. Still the study provided a basis to speculate on which particular emotions, olicitors and coping strategies exist universally and which of tlicse are quite unique to the Chinese culture. Thus the study can be regarded as a spring-board for further research.
School:The University of Hong Kong
School Location:China - Hong Kong SAR
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:emotions sociological aspects
Date of Publication:01/01/1977