Related to this is the notion that the Chinese "somaticize" their emotions. In this view, rather than expressing/experiencing emotions verbally and behaviorally, the Chinese manifest emotions as physical or bodily symptoms related to illness. If true, this "somaticizing" of emotions may provide a culturally condoned outlet for emotional expression (e.g., complaining of a stomach ache when angry) when other forms of expressions may be considered inappropriate (e.g., yelling at your employer).
A somewhat different understanding of Chinese emotions, proposed by Potter (1988, 59), is that emotions lack social significance in the collectivistic Chinese culture and thus are less relevant than they are in the individualistic American culture. The underlying assumption here is that emotions are more disruptive to the social harmony than they are helpful. In this view, emotional expression in Chinese culture is not so much discouraged or suppressed, but rather it is ignored. Potter described attitudes toward emotional displays in China as that of indifference, as evidenced by a statement by one of her cultural informants: "How I feel does not matter!" Although the underlying dynamic in Potter's model is quite different from that of Kleinberg, Wu and Tseng, and others, both models may lead to the same result: low levels of emotional experience and sparse emotional displays.
Empirical tests of these n...
Tsai and Levenson (2000, 37) found support for emotional moderation in Chinese culture in a study comparing Chinese American and European American dating couples who had unrehearsed conversations about their relationship. Chinese American couples reported fewer periods of positive emotion and showed less variability in their reported emotional experience than European American couples. Other studies of emotion in Chinese culture have not directly measured emotional responding, but rather have examined qualities of emotional judgments. Ekman et al. (1987, 97) found that college students from Asian countries (Hong Kong, Japan, Sumatra) attributed less emotional intensity than students from non-Asian countries to photographs of facial expressions posed by Caucasians. Matsumoto (1993, 55) reported a similar pattern of lower intensity ratings for Asian Americans using photographs of facial expressions posed by both Caucasians and Japanese. Consistent with ethnographic views reviewed earlier, Matsumoto also found that Asian participants rated the emotional expressions as being less "appropriate" under various social situations than did Caucasian participants.
Health care and social services providers face numerous challenges in meeting the health and wellness needs of Chinese Americans. In designing a strategy of care for this population, providers must understand that poverty, limited English skills, and noncitizenship status all serve as significant barriers to access and use. Providers must also consider the population's unique cultural beliefs and practices as well as address its most pressing social concerns.
A strategy to increase accessibility for and use of health care services among Chinese Americans may well