A comparison of the perceptions of Love, Anger, and Guilt in Portugal and the United States and implications for counseling

Essay by BaapOfAllCheaters May 2008

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In recent years, researchers have conducted studies in an emerging field known as “cultural psychology”. This sub-discipline of psychology seeks to examine the various cultural foundations of psychological diversity in human development (Shweder & Sullivan, 1993). Particular points of inspection are views of self, counseling and feelings ( Page & O’Leary, 1997; Cheng & Page, 1995). The universality as well as the diversity of certain types of emotional expression has been of interest to research investigators ( Harre, 1997; Russell, 1991; Izard, 1971; Sommers, 1984; Ekman, 1982). Some researchers have identified that the ways people evaluate different feelings is largely influenced by cultural factors and may have implications for the counseling process ( Page & O’Leary, 1997). Different cultures tend to emphasize different emotional experiences, but research has consistently identified three emotions that seem to operate across cultural boundaries. These emotions are love, anger and guilt ( Scheff, 1985). Although similar emotions are probably expressed in all cultures, the ways these emotions are perceived and evaluated may in fact be specific to each culture ( Looby & Page, 1997).

This topic is of importance to counselors because the way a client views the expression of feelings may influence how that client perceives the therapeutic process ( Ibrahim, 1991).

Culture is essentially what has been learned from various experiences in the environment and what is reflected in the ways people react and interact with their environment (Axelson, 1993). It is important to be sensitive to the unique cultural experiences of different groups ( Sue, Arredondo, & McDavis, 1992). Equally important are the impressions that both counselors and clients alike bring to the therapeutic process ( Axelson, 1993). The promotion of cross-cultural issues in counseling has also raised awareness that traditional views of counseling have historically been based on the views of...