Central Data Catalog

Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Journal of Psychology in Africa
Title The salience of socially engaging and disengaging emotions among Black and White South Africans
Volume 25
Issue 6
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
Page numbers 487-493
URL http://repository.nwu.ac.za/bitstream/handle/10394/20877/2015The_salience.pdf?sequence=1
This study investigated the experience of disengaging and engaging emotions among Black and White South African
university students. In total 351 Black and White students attending a large North Western province university in South
Africa (45% Black students, 69% female students, Mage = 21.09, SDage = 3.02) reported on their emotions in general, on the
last emotional experience they had at home, and on the last emotional experience they had at university. They rated in each
context 55 emotion terms that represented the emotion domain. Participants could either respond in English, Setswana, or
Afrikaans. A multidimensional scaling revealed a two-dimensional structure across Blacks and Whites, the three languages,
and the three contexts. On the first dimension negative emotions (such as sadness) were opposed to positive emotions (such
as joy). On the second dimension disengaging emotions (such as anger and pride) were opposed to engaging emotions (such
as guilt and compassion). Thus also in South Africa emotions differ with respect to whether they set a person apart from
the social context (disengaging), or whether they link a person to the social context (engaging). Contrary to expectation,
Blacks did not report more engaging and less disengaging emotions than Whites. In the university context no differences
were observed, while in the home and general context Blacks reported more disengaging and less engaging emotions than
Whites. Post hoc explanations are proposed in terms of relative differences in social status, acculturative changes, and the
specific experiences of Black and White students in the South-African context.

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