• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Without taking a single psychology course, ordinary people learn to understand, predict, and explain one another’s actions, thoughts, and motivations. Many cognitive scientists and philosophers claim that our everyday or folk understanding of mental states constitutes a theory of mind. That theory is widely called folk psychology (sometimes commonsense psychology). The terms in which folk psychology are couched are familiar ones of ‘belief’ and ‘desire,’ ‘hunger,’ ‘pain,’ and so forth. According to many theorists, folk psychology plays a central role in our capacity to predict and explain the behavior of ourselves and of others. This book has two goals: (a) to provide a framework for analyzing folk psychologies, and (b) to describe multiple forms that folk psychologies assume in different cultures.


Are the same types of feelings found in all cultures, does the importance of different emotions vary across cultures, and what sorts of situations are expected to elicit different types of affect?

The words emotion, feeling, and affect are used here as synonyms for psychophysical conditions identified by such labels as joy, anger, love, fear, happiness, shame, and the like.

One of the issues about the emotional content of folk psychologies that has attracted the attention of researchers has been the question of whether the different recognized emotions are universal. In other words, are the same emotions found in all cultures? That question is the first issue addressed in the following pages. The second issue is the matter of how cultural teachings help fashion people's emotional ...

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