Emotions - Universal or A Learned Phenomenon Essay

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This essay concerns emotions and controversial arguments based on whether emotions are universal or a learned phenomenon. Most of the research in to cross cultural Psychology surround their attention on the biological aspect of emotions as being the primary source of the occurrence of emotions and has been the subject of numerous studies. However, culture is also known to affect and provoke emotional experiences. This essay will discuss the position of emotions from a Universalist view and from a cultural view. The following approach will focus on the universality of emotions.
One explanation that claims emotions are universal comes from Darwin (1872 in Smith & Kosslyn, 2009). Darwin adopted an evolutionary perspective of emotions by
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Facial muscle structures have the potential to produce recognisable emotional expressions thereby implying that emotions must have evolved hence providing firm support for Darwin’s evolutionary theory. Borod (1992 in Shiraev & Levy, 2007, 2004) found that facial expressions of emotions originate from the right hemisphere.
Ekman (1973 in John et al., 2002) further conducted a study into the nature of facial expressions. Participants were instructed to produce facial expressions which corresponded to either happiness or anger. Results were recorded and further examined. They found significant similarities between facial expressions amongst participants suggesting the universality of emotions (in John et al., 2002). However, contradicting evidence from Izard (1980 in John et al., 2002) found that not all emotions are innate. Yet other factors such as physiological arousal and consensus amongst cultures have been identified as supportive evidence for the universality of emotions (in Shiraev & Levy, 2007, 2004).
As previously mentioned emotions are accompanied with changes in biological processes and cross-cultural studies have proven this to be correct. Emotions that have induced physiological arousal are among shame, fear and embarrassment. Ekman et

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