Feeling, in situ
What if emotions aren't universal but specific to each culture? The most generally accepted idea surrounding emotions is that we're all the same no matter where we're from. Culture may add some small indicators, but "our shared humanity leaks out: sadness wells up in the eyes, joy crinkles the lips." Elitsa Dermendzhiyska, a writer whose research involves the intersection of technology, research and mental health, explores the rising idea that emotions do not just count on biology but also on context, including the language we use and our culture. "Emotions are assembled similarly, from core affect's blurry outlines, as our brains layer on 'emotion concepts' of varying granularity and specificity. These concepts are pulled from the relevant mental script to fit and make sense of the situation at hand, constructing, in the process, an emotional episode. What we experience is shaped by a confluence of factors, just like a painting. Whether it ends up a Rothko or a Pollock or a Monet depends a lot on the artist's palette, her knack for nuance, her upbringing and cultural influences. Those same things – our emotional palette, the early environment in which our brains encoded their emotion scripts, the wider culture that handed our parents the rulebooks, maps and templates for emotions: all these things profoundly shape our affective experience."