Do you talk about your emotions? Why or why not?
Show notes and links:
Deadly Silence: Why Do We Find It So Hard to Talk About Emotional Distress? (Huffington Post)
Gender and Emotion: Social Psychological Perspectives (Google Books)
Stanford research: People from different cultures express sympathy differently (Stanford)
Full episode text
Talking about emotions can be quite difficult. The reasons vary – it may be shame, stigma, fear, unfamiliarity with starting the conversations, a lack of trust with those that we might open up to, a feeling of hopelessness that it would even help… the reasons vary. But the result is statistically significant. In almost every one of 30 cultures studied by Vingerhoets and Becht and 1996, women showed a higher propensity to discuss emotions than men. A review of multiple studies outlined in the book Gender and Emotion found that Western cultures tend to have more pronounced differences in emotional expression than non-Western cultures.
Interestingly, though, there are major differences in Western cultures too. A 2015 Stanford study compared German and American expressions of sympathy and found that American tend to focus more on the positive, finding the acknowledgement or expression of negative emotion to be undesirable and “almost sinful”, while German respondents tended to specifically name a negative emotion. Both cultures show empathy and sympathy, often quite deeply, to individuals that are close friends. However, the way in which the emotion is expressed differs greatly.
That is – if the emotions are expressed at all. Time and time again, emotional repression is linked to stress, high blood pressure, depression, asthma, and a number of other negative health impacts.