Are there cross-cultural differences in emotional processing and social problem-solving?

Open access


Emotional processing and social problem-solving are important for mental well-being. For example, impaired emotional processing is linked with depression and psychosomatic problems. However, little is known about crosscultural differences in emotional processing and social problem-solving and whether these constructs are linked. This study examines whether emotional processing and social problem-solving differs between Western (British) and Eastern European (Polish) cultures. Participants (N = 172) completed questionnaires assessing both constructs. Emotional processing did not differ according to culture, but Polish participants reported more effective social problem-solving abilities than British participants. Poorer emotional processing was also found to relate to poorer social problem-solving. Possible societal reasons for the findings and the implications of the findings for culture and clinical practice are discussed.

Baker, R. (2007). Emotional processing: Healing through feeling. London: Lion Hudson.

Baker, R., Holloway, J., Thomas, P. W., Thomas, S., & Owens, M.(2004). Emotional processing and panic. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 42, 1271-1287. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2003.09.002.

Baker, R., Owens, M., Thomas, T., Whittlesea, A., Abbey, G., Gower, P., … Thomas, P. W. (2012). Does CBT facilitate emotional processing? Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 40, 19-37. doi:10.1017/ S1352465810000895.

Baker, R., Thomas, S., Thomas, P. W., Gower, P., Santonastaso, M., & Whittlesea, A. (2010). The Emotional Processing Scale: Scale refinement and abridgement (EPS-25). Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 68, 83-88. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2009.07.007.

Baker, R., Thomas, S., Thomas, P. W., & Owens, M. (2007). Development of an emotional processing scale. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 62, 167-178. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2006.09.005.

Brosschot, J. F., & Aarsse, H. R. (2001). Restricted emotional processing and somatic attribution in fibromyalgia. International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, 31, 127-146. doi: 10.2190/K7AU-9UX9- W8BW-TETL.

Cameron, J. I., Shin, J. L., Williams, D., & Stewart D. E. (2004). A brief problem-solving intervention for family caregivers to individuals with advanced cancer. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 57, 137-143. doi: 10.1016/S0022-3999(03)00609-3.

Campbell-Sills, L., Barlow, D. H., Brown, T. A., & Hofmann, S. G. (2006). Effects of suppression and acceptance on emotional responses of individuals with anxiety and mood disorders. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44,1251-1263. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2005.10.001.

Dreer, L. E., Berry, J., Rivera, P., Snow, M., Elliot, T. R., Miller, D., & Little, T. D. (2009). Efficient assessment of social problem-solving abilities in medical and rehabilitationsettings: A Rasch analysis of the Social Problem-Solving Inventory - Revised. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 65, 653-669. doi:10.1002/jclp.20573.

D’Zurilla, T. J., Chang, E. C., & Sanna, L. J. (2004). Social problem solving: Current status and future directions. In E. C. Chang, T. J.

D’Zurilla, & L. J. Sanna (Eds.), Social problem solving: Theory, research, and training (pp.241-253). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

D’Zurilla, T. J., & Nezu, A. M. (1999). Problem-solving therapy: A social competence approach to clinical intervention (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Springer.

D’Zurilla, T. J., & Nezu, A. M. (2007). Problem-solving therapy: A positive approach to clinical intervention. New York, NY: Springer.

D’Zurilla, T. J. Nezu, A. M., & Maydeu-Olivares, A. (2002). Social Problem-Solving Inventory - Revised (SPSI-R:S). Manual. New York, NY: Multi-Health Systems.

Elliott, T. R., & Shewchuk, R. M. (2003). Social problem-solving abilities and distress among family members assuming a care giving role. British Journal of Health Psychology, 8, 149-163. doi:10.1348/135910703321649132.

Gross, J. J. (1989). Emotional expression in cancer onset and progression. Social Science and Medicine, 28, 1239-1248. doi:10.1016/0277-9536(89)90342-0.

Guo-Ming, Y., & Biao, L. (2012). How subjective well-being affects emotional processing: the role of event-related potentials. Social Behaviour and Personality: an international Journal, 40, 1285-1292. doi: 10.2224/sbp.2012.40.8.1285.

Machin, P., & Williams, A. C. (1998). Stiff upper lip: Coping strategies of World War II veterans with phantom limb pain. Clinical Journal of Pain, 14, 290-294. doi: 10.1097/00002508-199812000-00004.

Mason, D. S. (1991). Apathy and the birth of democracy: The Polish struggle. Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS. Paper 37. Retrieved from:

Maydeu-Olivares, A., & D’Zurilla, T. J. (1996). A factor-analytic study of the Social Problem-Solving Inventory: An integration of theory and data. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 20, 115-133. doi: 10.1007/ BF02228030.

McMurran, M., Nezu, A. M., & Maguth-Nezu, C. (2008). Problem solving therapy for people with personality disorders: An overview. Mental Health Review Journal, 13, 35-39. doi:10.1108/13619322200800012.

Rachman, S. (1980). Emotional processing. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 18, 51-60. doi: 10.1016/0005-7967(80)90069-8.

Riaz, A., & Khan, S. (2012). Relationship of emotional intelligence and stress at workplace: Taking in perspective the public and private sector universities of Peshawar. European Journal of Economics, Finance & Administrative Science, 46, 88-96. Retrieved from:

Russell, J. A. (1991). Culture and the categorization of emotions. Psychological Bulletin, 110,426-450. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.110.3.426.

Santonastaso, M. (2011). Cross-cultural comparison of emotional processing: A quantitative psychological study of healthy participants and chronic pain patients from England, Italy and Japan. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Bournemouth University, UK.

Siu, A., & Shek, D. (2010). Social problem solving as a predictor of wellbeing in adolescents and young adults. Social Indicators Research, 95, 393-406. doi: 10.1007/s11205-009-9527-5.

Trompenaars, F. & Hampden-Turner, C. (1998). Riding the waves of culture: Understanding cultural diversity in business (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL: Irwin.

Verıssimo, R., Mota-Cardosa, R., & Taylor, G. (1998). Relationships between alexithymia, emotional control, and quality of life in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 67, 61-70. doi: 10.1159/000012263.

Wierzbicka, A.(1999). Emotions across languages and cultures: Diversity and universals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Polish Psychological Bulletin

The Journal of Committee for Psychological Sciences of Polish Academy of Sciences

Journal Information

CiteScore 2016: 0.33

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.185
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.258


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 305 264 22
PDF Downloads 160 151 12