Batja Mesquita, “Between Us: How Cultures Create Emotions” (Norton, 2022)

Today I talked to Batja Mesquita about her book Between Us: How Cultures Create Emotions (Norton, 2022).

To a degree sometimes not realized, we discuss emotions through the lens of what have been called WEIRD cultures, i.e. Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic. As a result, the perspective taken tends to be inside/out, privileging one’s private feelings: a Mine approach. Yet in much of the world, more of an Ours approach prevails, with an understanding of emotions as being important because they help us navigate the cultures we live in. So as Batja Mesquita notes, emotions are therefore recognized as happening between people because emotions are relational, cultural, situational, and heavily involve cultural norms. To unpack an emotional episode is to explore, by degrees, what is going on and why the episode is significant in relation to one’s goals and values, and one’s place within a given situation and wider, cultural context.

Dr. Batja Mesquita is a social psychologist, an affective scientist, and a pioneer of cultural psychology. She’s a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Leuven, Belgium. She’s from a Dutch Jewish family with parents who survived the Holocaust in hiding. She’s also lived in Italy, Bosnia, and the U.S., where she did her post-doctoral work at the University of Michigan.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the author of ten books and leads Sensory Logic, Inc. ( His newest book is Emotionomics 2.0: The Emotional Dynamics Underlying Key Business Goals. To check out his related “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” blog, visit

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