Effect of Cultural Background on Emotional Expression

Culture plays an essential role in people’s mental life, defining their behavior and attitudes. Different cultures do not act the same when expressing their emotions; therefore, certain behaviors common for one culture may not be acceptable in another. Liberal societies welcome the demonstration of genuine emotions, sometimes even unpleasant ones, under almost any circumstances. On the other hand, conserved cultures prefer to avoid excessive emotional expression in public. For example, I belong to Jordanian culture, and my upbringing does not allow me to show affection, joy, and anger in public places. Being primarily guided by Islamic religious views, Jordan culture requires maintaining a reserved dress code and a distance between opposite genders in social circumstances. Our culture does not allow loud expressions of joy and anger in public places. Furthermore, Jordan has a clear hierarchical demarcation in families and society. Therefore, people who are older and higher in position often possess more power in decision-making. Nevertheless, the conservative nature of our culture does not prevent it from being respectful to all people.

Excessive emotional expression of any individual is still forbidden in Jordan culture. Therefore, my family taught me to control my behavior since early childhood. I became accustomed to maintaining distance with my friends of both genders. Moreover, I learned to suppress excessive expressions of happiness and anger both in private and public, which sometimes appear as emotionlessness. Indeed, controlling my temper was the most valuable skill that Jordan culture taught me. On the other hand, it is easy to demonstrate my respect in conversations with older people by listening carefully and pausing if necessary, without feeling offended for not expressing my individual opinion.

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