Volume 3, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1566-5836
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9706
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The ideal poetry is speech that capitalizes on indirection, avers the literary critic Yang Tsai (1271–1323): “Sorrow and grief are held in reserve and no pain is expressed; praise and attack are indirect and not obvious.” To spell out this vision of the Confucian poetics, a reformulation of the IND-COL (Individualism-Collectivism) hypothesis is proposed to anchor cross-cultural differences in terms of Novelty-focus versus Authenticity-focus, with the former being privileged in individualistic cultures, and the latter, collectivistic cultures. The Authenticity-focus hypothesis sheds light on two major functions of indirect expression of emotions: (a) As anti-exploitation device, with the sender’s skills consisting primarily of suppression of emotions; and the receiver’s skills, mind-reading and attunement. (b) As means to achieve inter- and intra-personal harmony, with poetry in particular functioning as a “ritual dance with words” to shape and mold emotions. Data that support the “Authenticity-focus” hypothesis challenge the conventional dichotomy of expression versus inhibition in emotion research, by showing that indirect expression of emotion functions like a veil that reveals and conceals at once the truth of the emoter.


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