How to debunk deceptive emotions | Kristen Lindquist
In the video “How to Debunk Deceptive Emotions,” Kristen Lindquist, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, delves into the concept of “affective realism” – the idea that our emotions feel like they are the truth of the world around us. She explains how emotions are shaped by culture and serve as a lens for interpreting the world, shedding light on the cultural basis of emotion.
Lindquist explores the differences in emotional responses between individualistic and collectivistic cultures, using the example of anger to illustrate how cultural context influences the physiological and psychological experience of emotions. Emphasizing the impact of culture on the brain’s interpretation of emotions, she discusses the variability in facial muscle movements associated with different emotional categories across cultures.
Throughout the video, Lindquist challenges viewers to recognize and embrace the diversity in perceptions and emotional experiences, suggesting that understanding and respecting different cultural perspectives can lead to greater connections across groups and ultimately provide better insights into how the world works. She encourages an open-minded approach to learning about and appreciating the unique emotional angles that each person brings to the world.
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– Powerful emotions feel like irrefutable facts. They wash over us, take over our bodies, and change our perceptions. We call this ‘affective realism’ where your emotional experiences feel like they are the truth of the world around you. When, in reality, the culture that we live in is, in a sense, shaping your emotions
And your emotions are then serving as a lens for interpreting the world around you. And the notion that people could be thinking and feeling something that is completely different from what we would think or feel in that context is frankly kind of scary. But understanding that people don’t necessarily
Have the same emotional mind as us could really open our eyes to how it is that we’re perceiving interactions in day-to-day life. I’m Kristen Lindquist, and I’m a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill- and I study the neural and cultural basis of emotion.
Emotions are like cultural artifacts. They’re things that are passed down over time from one individual to the next, like art and religion and the language that you speak. Now, I should clarify, this is not to say that there isn’t a biological basis for those things. All humans are born with the basic hardware
That helps the brain create emotions, Culture very much defines who we are, who we see ourselves as, who we want to be. And the experiences that you’ve had, which are very much nested in culture, can trickle down to the operation of single neurons that are processing visual sensations in the world around you.
One of the most prominent focuses of this work has been on cultures that are high in what’s called individualism versus cultures that are high in what’s called collectivism. As a case in point in the United States, which is a highly individualistic society, anger is about making yourself different from the people around you.
It’s about showing that some sort of violation has occurred, setting a line in the sand and saying, “You did something wrong to me.” And when individuals in the United States experience anger, we see an increase in inflammation. Too much inflammation, too much stress ends up creating things
Like cardiovascular disease and many other disorders. In Japan, anger does not show a robust increase in inflammation. In Japan, anger is a signal that harmony in the group has been disrupted and a signal to mend bonds. A different physiological response to the same exact emotional experience.
But emotions like anger and sadness and fear seem so basic, so critical to our survival. And surely people from cultures around the world experience threats and experience their hearts beating quickly when their lives are in danger. And that is not in question. The question is how it is that their brains
Are making meaning of those instances and experiencing them as something separate from other types of mental states. In much of the early theorizing about emotion, it was assumed that facial muscle movements were automatically triggered, means of signaling somebody’s internal state to other people. The theory has progressed on this over time
To suggest that it may be that people are communicating what they feel with their facial expressions, but not automatically and reflexively, in much the same way that they would use language. There’s some nice work that has been done using computer graphics to randomly display an avatar’s face and randomly move its facial muscles.
And so participants from China saw a movement of an eyebrow or a wrinkling of the lip that Western perceivers did not see. In the U.K., there were facial muscle movements associated with an emotion like anger that were not perceived to be associated with that emotion category in China.
So there’s a fair amount of variability in which specific facial muscle movements are associated with different categories. And what’s really critical to understand is that the signals that people make with their face need not give some veritical representation of what it is that they’re feeling.
But secondly, that we are imposing our own cultural biases onto people’s facial muscle movements. This all comes down to something which in philosophy is called which is that we can never truly understand the content of other people’s minds. And yet, when we encounter people from different cultures
In daily life, even within our own cities, people who come from different regional backgrounds, or have different religious backgrounds, or even have different political identities- it can be stressful to encounter other cultures and realize that something is just a little bit out of sync. If you recognize that everybody’s psychology
Is a little bit distinct and that you are perhaps imposing your own bias onto things and have more of an open mind about trying to learn what somebody is feeling instead of assuming, then there’s more avenues for connections across groups. Each person is bringing to bear really something that is unique,
A unique angle on the world around them. And ultimately, this diversity in perceptions could lead us to better answers about how it is that the world works.
Author Video Description
Your emotions do not reflect an irrefutable truth. Psychologist Kristen Lindquist explains how important that is for connecting across cultures.
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When it comes to obtaining an objective understanding of the world around us, emotions may not be as reliable as we think, explains Kristen Lindquist, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Lindquist explores the concept of “affective realism,” a term that describes how our feelings shape our reality, both of which are influenced by cultural nuances. She unravels the connections between emotions, culture, and the brain, challenging the notion that our emotional experiences always mirror objective truths.
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About Kristen Lindquist:
Kristen Lindquist, PhD. is a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her research seeks to understand the psychological and neural basis of emotions, moods, and feelings. Her on-going work uses tools from social cognition, physiology, neuroscience, and big data methods to examine how emotions emerge from the confluence of the body, brain, and culture.
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Video “How to debunk deceptive emotions | Kristen Lindquist” was uploaded on 01/08/2024 to Youtube Channel Big Think