Book Definition: The permissible ways of displaying emotions in a particular society. (p 300)

In Your Own Words


  • The cultural standards by which the people of that culture are "allowed to show emotion."
  • Some facial expressions may mean something here and in another place mean something completely different.
  • Cultural rules dictating whether and how to express one’s emotions in a certain situation.
  • Display rules are norms that govern the appropriate display of emotions; the norms in a culture for how and when emotions should be expressed.
  • Taboos of a particular culture.
Examples
  • In Islamic culture, females are not to disagree because it is seen as a sign of disrespect.
  • Children in Asian cultures are often taught to mask their emotions (especially negative ones), whereas American children are generally advised to express them.
  • In other countries, the middle finger is meaningless, where as here, it's very impolite and generally a sign of anger or hate.
  • Sticking out your tongue in America usually signifies disgust, where as in China it can express surprise.
  • Slurping your soup in America is viewed as socially unacceptable, while in Japan and Hong Kong it is seen as a sign of approval of the cook and appreciation of the food.
  • In American culture, it is disrespectful to not make eye contact when talking to people, where as in many African cultures it is considered a sign of respect to look down when speaking to someone, particularly elders.
  • In America, holding up your middle finger and index finger conveys the message of peace; however, in England and Australia, this is known as an obscene way of telling someone off.
  • In Italy, biting your thumb is a way of showing disrespect or insulting someone, while in other cultures it doesn't mean anything.
  • In Japanese culture it is known that burping after a meal shows politeness and enjoyment of the food, but in American culture, after burping, you must say "excuse me" as to be ashamed for burping.
  • In America it is considered socially unacceptable for men to display their emotions.
  • Women do not typically display aggressive, dominating behaviors because display rules dictate that these are negative behaviors for females.
  • In Australia, holding up a peace sign with your palm facing towards you has the same meaning as sticking up your middle finger in America.
  • In Islamic and Asian countries a thumbs up that moves and a vertical direction gives off the meaningof grave insults compared to American and European countries where it's a sign of good or ok...
  • Display rules explain the discrepancies in emotional behaviors displayed by males and females, as well as why women seem to be more prone to depression while men seem to be more prone to anger.

Additional Resources:
  1. http://nortonbooks.typepad.com/everydaysociology/2008/10/feeling-and-dis.html
  2. http://www.spring.org.uk/2007/05/which-culture-most-controls-their.php

Research