SATO Wataru Laboratory

Cross-cultural differences in self-reported and behavioural emotional self-awareness between Japan and the UK

(Huggins, Williams, & Sato: BMC Res Notes)

How we express and describe emotion is shaped by sociocultural norms.
These sociocultural norms may also affect emotional self-awareness, i.e., how we identify and make sense of our own emotions.
Previous studies have found lower emotional self-awareness in East Asian compared to Western samples using self-report measures.
However, studies using behavioural methods did not provide clear evidence of reduced emotional self-awareness in East Asian groups.
This may be due to different measurement tools capturing different facets of emotional self-awareness.

To investigate this issue further, we compared the emotional self-awareness of Japanese (n = 29) and United Kingdom (UK) (n = 43) adults using the self-report Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20), alongside two behavioural measures - the Emotional Consistency Task (EC-Task) and the Photo Emotion Differentiation Task (PED-Task).
Japanese adults showed higher TAS-20 scores than UK participants, indicating greater self-reported difficulties with emotional self-awareness.
Japanese participants also had lower EC-Task scores than UK adults, indicating a lower ability to differentiate between levels of emotional intensity.
PED-Task performance did not show clear group differences.
These findings suggest that cross-cultural differences in emotional self-awareness vary with the task used, because different tasks assess distinct aspects of this ability.
Future research should attempt to capture these different aspects of emotional self-awareness.

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