Thursday, November 29, 2012


Why So Emotional, America?

"Other than Singapore (and, for some reason, Madagascar and Nepal), the least emotional countries in the world are all former members of the Soviet Union." : |

46 Comments / Post A Comment


I didn't really need someone to tell me this.

fondue with cheddar

In Soviet Russia, emotions feel you?

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@fondue with cheddar Damnit, I was going to write, "In Soviet Russia, tears cry you." Beat me to it, melty cheese.

fondue with cheddar

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Yours is better because it doesn't make sense. :)


@fondue with cheddar In Soviet Ukraine, happy feels you?

fondue with cheddar

@Derevkova That's a good one. It's like things are so bleak that happiness touches you inappropriately.


This is what it sounds like when no one cries.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@JessicaLovejoy Maybe it's because they were all just left standing, in a world so cold.


@JessicaLovejoy they killed all the doves, just to be sure


50% of my heritage is Russian Jewry, and nearly every person (that I knew) on that side of my family is this bizarre mix of unemotional yet sentimental. Like, they don't cry easily or laugh/smile easily, but then they write long, beautiful poems about those who meant something to them (for example). It was very confusing to me growing up, when I thought grandpas were jovial, kindly men who were supposed to hold you on their lap, read you stories, and give you butterscotch candies.


@olivebee That is the Russia I know and love. Emotional in a certain way that I suspect this survey was biased against.


@olivebee My grandpa is not Russian and he is not the jovial grandpa either!


@highjump yeah. Having Lived Internationally (smirking to myself) each country has the same amount of emotions but they are expressed very differently, and different emotions are privileged in each place, and then there are some for friends/drinking, some for family, some for never talking about, etc. etc.

Faintly Macabre

@olivebee My old coach, who'd been on the national team and served in the military in Soviet Ukraine, terrified all of the kids who didn't know him (and many who did). He was tough as nails, coming back to work a few days after heart surgery despite being in his 60s. He often talked about how lazy and slow we were and had pretty awesomely cutting remarks despite his poor English. But he also wrote a book of poetry in Russian, kept flowers from his wife's garden in his practice room, and once tried to hug me (while chastizing my mistakes) when I was crying after losing a close match.


Anecdata, but I had a friend whose parents were Argentinian & Russian, (both Jewish if that makes a difference?) and both of them were super passionate and shouty, so I always think of Russians as being like that.


But what about those achingly passionate soviet films? Like Solaris, or Battleship Potemkin

Living My Best Life Far Away from the Hairpin!

I believe it. Maybe it's just me, but I've always found that sort of mordant, IDGAF attitude that Russians seem to have enviable and sexy. ???


@Katzen-party THE DARK TRIAD

Living My Best Life Far Away from the Hairpin!

@ghechr Oh, shit... But I'm just a dark triad wannabe, and am in reality an emotional American mess.


I find this kind of unbelievable. I'm half Ukrainian, and my people are ridiculously overly emotional, passionate, and sentimental. My family may be especially unstable, but I have heard on numerous occasions that Ukrainians are VERY EMOTIONAL. Like, that's a common stereotype to those who actually know what a Ukrainian is. I mean, Christ, listen to Tchaikovsky. I was JUST listening to the first movement of the 4th Symphony, and it was, um, very emotional?


@TheGenYgirl Yeah, I live in Russia and come from a Belarusian-American family and christ every Russian boyfriend I've ever had sits around listening to a song and crying and being like SO MANY MEMORIESSSS. I think Russians tend to be more genuine about their emotions and this survey sort of just favored American exhuberance or whatever.


@psychedelicate As further proof, I just got overemotional about the findings of this study.


Interestingly, when I was studying theater in London, I had a professor go on at length about how the English could not perform Chekhov, because they were too unemotional. Americans and the Irish were far better suited to the wild extremes of feeling.

But maybe it has something to do with the fact that it's pre-revolutionary Russia?


Philippines is SO ACCURATE! Filipinos will often just burst into tears at your desk in an office, claiming someone was mean to them. If someone accidentally cuts off a Filipino on the road? TEARS.

Oh, and I'm married to a Colombian and can vouch for their high emotions as well as my own (American).


@aguacate It's truuuuue, it's true. My stoic, tearless Korean father-in-law runs a company in the Philippines, and he gets really frustrated that he can't give his employees one critical word about their work without everybody bursting out sobbing. (Admittedly, I'm American and my tear ducts have a mind of their own as well.)

the roughest toughest frail

@aguacate I was just going to say that this is not news to anyone who has seen a Filipino soap opera. They make telenovelas look positively grim.

Plant Fire

@aguacate I find the Colombian part fascinating because I'm Colombian (as is half my family) and they aren't particularly emotional? I mean, compared to me they are but my friends regularly tease me for never crying and rarely smiling (I smile on the inside) and not showing any emotions but I think my Colombian relatives are pretty calm, at least compared to the American half of my family.


I'd be kind of curious to see how the US breaks down, because I suspect there's a certain amount of reporting bias going on here. Like, I feel lots of emotions, but I'm not going to TELL anyone about them. #frigidNewEnglandPuritan


From the article: "The more times that people answer 'yes' to questions such as 'Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?', the more emotional they’re deemed to be."
Dude, no. Smiling and laughing does not = emotion. Having worked with students from these "unemotional" countries, I remember several of them commenting that Americans' tendency to smile all the time struck them as phony or forced. My (emotional, believe me) from-the-former-USSR parents feel this way too. But they encouraged me to smile more, because they paid for my braces.


I refuse to believe that about Ukrainians wholly based on Elena from the most recent Project Runway.


@frigwiggin Yeah, when @TheGenYGirl upthread mentioned Ukrainians being very emotional, I immediately conjured up an image of Elena in my mind shouting and crying. But, then Dmitry was Belarusian and he was very stoic, as is my Belarusian co-worker. But none of my points are proof of anything since one person does not a population make.


I wonder if the former Soviet countries experience something similar to the Korean concept of han which might explain a less 'happy' (smiley?) culture...?


@annagram That's an interesting idea, and I would say to remember that the nations that once made up the former Soviet Union are incredibly varied in terms of culture/religion/socio-political histories, so some of them might possibly have a han-like concept, or it might be uniquely Korean.
I think you also have to factor in the cultural variables that go into being "happy", definiting what "happiness" is, and noting how important "being happy" is in a given society (imo, there's pressure on Americans to always "be happy" or to think about one's happiness, and this probably influenced poll answers, and may not be the case in other places.)


@Spaghettius! yeah. I think smiling definitely doesn't mean happy. I also think cross-cultural surveys should have some cross-cultural translation so that questions can be asked in different ways to get the same results. As per usual, the pin comments and pinner lives are way more interesting than the actual article!


@theotherginger @Spaghettius! I agree that varying histories should definitely be taken into account! And it's always dangerous to generalise about national cultures because people themselves are so varied. I guess I was thinking of 'smiley' to describe a society that seems to value outward/demonstrative positive emotion, which doesn't necessarily mean actual internal contentment (which is how I think of 'happiness').

Miss Maszkerádi

How do you measure the gross national emotional output anyway? Co-signing all the comments about emotionally intense Slavs.


Koreans are so emotional though. Have you ever seen a Korean woman grieving? All the chest-thumping and sobbing?

Lila Fowler

@lisma Word. Most of my Korean co-workers consider themselves highly emotional and consider their American counterparts overly logical and unfeeling. I think it's just a totally different view of relationships - to them it's really unemotional and cold to be able to a) live far away from friends/family b) not have 'touchy feely' relationships between platonic male friends c) not observe hierarchical rules related to age/position d) not bend over backwards to make sure no one evereverever loses face, etc.

jude folly@twitter

ms. fowler's on to something. my wife grew up in ukraine (a soviet block nation) during the tail end of the cold war. when i told her about u.s. media portrayals of russians as cold, unsmiling lumps of humanity, she said that was how americans were portrayed by soviet state-run media.

what i would say about americans is not that they're so emotional, rather that they preen for and prod others to pay attention to them.



Yeah, as someone with a father who still lives in Moscow and a Ukrainian ex, I have to echo the rest of the comments in this thread and call bullshit on the findings. Actions are not the same things as emotions; smiles do not equal happiness and shouting doesn't denote excitement. Every culture has different ways of expressing feelings. You have to look in the person's eyes and pay attention to their hand gestures and read between the lines, especially when they say something religious or related to health/wellness.


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