Display rules are unwritten guidelines we follow in managing our emotional expressions. To deeply understand the concept, I record five emotions and how I’ve expressed it in both public and private places. Here are the results:
1a. Date & Time: May 26, 2008, 8pm
b. Type of emotion experienced: Fear. I was worrying so much about one thing.
c. Setting (be specific): I was alone in a private place, my room.
d. How emotion was expressed (form and intensity): I was a little restless. I was very quiet, alone. I may be frowning.
2a. Date & Time: May 26, 2008 11pm
b. Type of emotion experienced: Disgust
c. Setting (be specific) : I was with my brother in a private place.
d. How emotion was expressed (form and intensity): Frowning, really frowning.
3a. Date & Time: May 27, 2008, 5am
b. Type of emotion experienced: Excitement
c. Setting (be specific) : I was alone in a private place, my room.
d. How emotion was expressed (form and intensity): Laughing, jumping, and dancing around.
4a. Date & Time:May 27, 2008, 10am
b. Type of emotion experienced: excitement
c. Setting (be specific) : I was with others in a public place.
d. How emotion was expressed (form and intensity): Just smiling. I looked relaxed.
5a. Date & Time: May 27,2008, 9pm
b. Type of emotion experienced: Happiness
c. Setting (be specific) : I was with others in a public place
d. How emotion was expressed (form and intensity): Laughing really hard.
In a private setting, I think I was freer in expressing my emotions. I think I was never cautious of what ever I do when I am in a private place whether alone or with someone else, as long as that someone else is someone I can relate to, someone I won’t be ashamed to show my feelings to.
In a public place, I guess, I become conscious with my expressions. I think I do not want to show too much expression when in public places with other people or even without anyone.
I guess one has to act out his/her emotions when in a public place. It has to be done because there are things that are not acceptable to some people. Or sometimes, we want to be acceptable to a certain crowd so we act in front of them.
I think there are almost no differences on the rules governing the expression of both positive and negative emotions. In a private place, I think it is fine to just express it on whatever way you like it. If you’re happy, you can jump, sing, and kiss everyone. If you’re sad, afraid, you can also do whatever you wish to. In a public place, everyone becomes conscious on how they show their emotions. People hate it when you are overacting on certain situations. But, we can still show our real emotions in public if we feel we are “permitted” to do so, for example, being accepted to American Idol.
Display rules vary from cultures. I believe my cultural background has affected my display rules much. Like, we laugh over things even miserable ones. Other people do not understand how I seem relaxed when I should be really worrying, or must be in fury. I’ve kept cool even when a waitress spilled hot coffee over my arms. I was surprised how a lady at the other table, who I think is about my age, at the other table cursed a waiter who accidentally spilled coke over her.
Cultural display rules may affect intercultural communication due to differences. For example, one may think the other is getting angry when the other raises his voice and using too much hand movements when all he does is to explain one thing. When one remains quiet, the other may think he’s not interested to talk about the matter, when actually, he remained quiet because he was offended. This misunderstanding may be due to the inability of both parties to recognize emotions.
Elfenbein and Ambady (2002) suggest that the amount of power one has in society might affect the ability to recognize emotions. For example, they found that majority group members were poorer at judging the emotions of minority group members than the reverse. I think it is because the majority has given too much thought that they are correct because many are with them so they don’t consider what minorities are thinking or feeling. Minority group members, however, has known too much about the side the majority has taken so it is easy for them to recognize the majority group members emotions. Like in our house, my parents think the computer must not be in my room, but rather be in a common place inside the room. When I kept mum, they thought, it was okay with me.
Elfenbein, Hillary Anger and Nalini Ambady. (2002). Universals and Cultural Differences in Recognizing Emotions. Retrieved May 30, 2008 from http://126.96.36.199/search?q=cache:tCvG6VmIYjcJ:faculty.haas.berkeley.edu/anger/CurrentDirections.pdf+cultural+display+rules&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=ph