Emotion Culture and Emotion Experience

The culture of emotions, also known as “emotionology,”[1] consists of the collective emotional standards of a society. These include norms of feeling and emotion expression, desirable ideals and an admissible range of emotion experience in concurrence with definite situations. Arlie Hochschild has introduced the concept of feeling rules, which can be said to be “the side of ideology that deals with emotion and feeling.”[2] This “emotional ideology” ensures group cohesion and allows for cultural self-identification. It is important to note that “feeling rules” refer to mental states and not simply appearances. While we all perform in a Goffmanesque sense,[3] we also try to feel in ways that our culture dictates—as in “I started to try and make myself like him.”[4] 

The self does some emotion management to create, intensify, suppress and transform its emotions in conformity with the normative emotional regime.[5] We learn, as part of our culture, to control the types of emotions we experience and their intensity: for example, we get angry at our child’s omission and at our boss’ unfairness with a different degree of intensity, and it is precisely this difference that makes our anger appropriate or inappropriate. 

The most common emotion management technique is based on the link between emotion experience and emotion expression, which are biologically inseparable and interdependent. William James first noted that emotion display triggers feeling, just as feeling triggers emotion display. “Sit all day in a moping posture, sigh and reply to everything in a dismal voice, and your melancholy lingers,” he observed in 1884.[6] Numerous empirical studies since then have shown that adopting a posture of fear or anger incites the respective emotion;[7] by the same token, producing a smile, even by mechanically holding a pencil across one’s mouth, brings about a feeling of merriment.[8] We can work ourselves comparatively easily into the feeling we’re aiming at simply by altering our facial expression. 

Another well-known emotion management technique is cognitive self- stimulation.[9] One may evoke emotionally charged ideas or situational representations in one’s mind in order to induce a desired emotion. Since emotions have a substantial cognitive component,[10] we can influence our emotion experience by entertaining certain thoughts, memories of events, images, and so on. 

Emotion culture, of course, is time-and space-relative. The history of emotions has shown how our conceptualization of emotions changes in time and, with it, so does the social emotion experience.[11] The anthropology of emotions has shown how emotion experience differs from one society to another.[12] Yet, any society has some sort of formal emotion culture that can be grasped from its folklore and epos, sermons and religious teachings, educational and scientific publications, court records, books of advice, popular literature and film, professional manuals and textbooks, magazine columns and psychological advice, parental guides, etiquette books, ethics codes, or other cultural products offering models of personality and self-presentation where emotional states are significant building blocks. While prescriptive literature does not necessarily turn into practice, it is indicative of the cultural expectations[13] in regard to emotion experience. Thus, our personal feelings are constantly encouraged or discouraged by the culture of emotions we have internalized, and any significant deviance from the societal emotional norms is perceived as emotional disorder that necessitates treatment.[14] Hence, our individual emotion experience is ultimately socially regulated. Moreover, we tend to fit our pliant emotion experience into the conceptual framework our culture provides, simply to make sense of it. Being aware of what one feels requires matching one’s feelings to the knowledge of emotions one has. In result, our culture of emotions becomes to a great extent our emotional reality.

The relevance of emotion culture for individual psychological experience has been confirmed by a series of experimental and analytical studies. Historically, confessional literature, personal accounts, diaries, intimate letters, memoirs and all kinds of private individual statements have been found to concur to a great extent with the emotional ethics and etiquette of the respective epoch. For example, Carol Stearns has shown how the emotion experience reported in personal diaries of 16th–18th century England and the colonies practically followed the changes in the religious recommendations and the philosophical outlook of the time.[15] “The change in emotionology drastically affected emotional experience.”[16] There is significant consistency in the findings obtained by both methods—studying cultural advice and personal disclosure. Therefore, mapping the mainstream emotion culture of a certain society gives us a pretty good idea of the general emotion experience of its members. 

The history of emotions has yielded substantial studies on love, anger, fear, grief, jealousy, and many other discrete emotions. However, there is no particular study of cheerfulness, a rather moderate emotion, which, for reasons that I will discuss further, has remained unnoticeable to the scholarly eye. Based on much of the historical literature on emotions, some primary sources and some other areas of cultural history, I outline here the social use and conceptualization of cheerfulness over the last three centuries. I argue that, in the modern age, cheerfulness rose in value and became the most favored emotion for experience and display; as such, it was individually sought and socially encouraged until it became the main emotional norm of twentieth-century America. 

The Eighteenth-Century Shift from Melancholy to Good Cheer

American historians of emotions note a major emotionological shift from melancholy to good cheer over the eighteenth century. In the early modern period American culture, just as European, was fascinated with feelings of sadness. In Europe, there was a fashion for melancholy.[17] People delighted in appearing melancholic and such words as Schwermut or Schwärmerei (religious or mystical melancholy), spleen, ennui and Heimweh (nostalgia) were in constant circulation. Many philosophers assumed that melancholy was all-pervasive. The French Encyclopedia talked about “the habitual feeling of our imperfection.” “Profound sadness became the badge of a way of life.”[18] Sentimentalism was part of the Age of Enlightenment: tear-provoking novels such as Richardson’s “Pamela” and “Shamela,” Rousseau’s “La Nouvelle Héloïse,” and Goethe’s “The Sufferings of Young Werther,” made the first bestsellers. Epistolary art, painting and the theater aimed to provoke sadness far more often than laughter. People sought to partake in sadness and valued its expression. It was considered good to cry so tears were frequently shed in public by both men and women.[19] For example, book reading, done aloud and in groups, often ended in collective weeping.[20] In France, melancholy was part of the code of the salons where the apostles of reason, Diderot and Voltaire, were repeatedly seen tearful.[21] In eighteenth-century European aesthetic, tears implied a noble soul and a sad face was a sign of sensibility and compassion. Royal events provoked mass weeping and, at the time of the French Revolution, it was customary for the entire National Assembly to break into tears after a moving speech.[22] This emotional style was not unknown to the American Congress during the first several decades of its existence. Here is how Harriet Martineau describes a speech on the treatment of the Cherokees given in 1835 by Senator Henry Clay, his voice “trembling with emotion, swelling and falling. […] I saw tears, of which I’m sure he was wholly unconscious, falling on his papers as he vividly described the woes and injuries of the aborigines. I saw Webster draw his hand across his eyes;I saw everyone deeply moved…”[23] Parliamentary institutions on both sides of the Atlantic subscribed to the culture of sadness thus setting the tone for emotion display in public.

Traditional Christianity promoted suffering as a means to virtue, so in pre-Reformation and early Reformation cultures one could work on one’s spiritual refinement by suffering physical and emotional pain. The Calvinistic tradition, just as the Catholic, advised patience in unfortunate situations—which aroused sorrow, rather than anger, since anger carries a potential for action. Thus, British and American diarists of the seventeenth century consistently portrayed themselves as doleful.[24] Women described themselves in standard postures of sadness and weeping. Instances of personal trouble and common wrong were said to cause grief, not indignation or anger, as they do today. A man would characterize himself as “grieving” when he had his horse stolen or when his master did not pay him adequately. Since little effort was made to remedy unfair situations, people felt frequently sad over events in the early modern Anglo-Saxon world. For example, the neo-Puritan warden of the College of Manchester, John Dee, wrote that the lewd and untrue fables reported about him “grieved his hart.” Puritan clergyman Ralph Josselin implored God to “helpe [him] walk humbly” and “weaken his soule … ” Introspective writing described working upon one’s passions to cultivate a mild temper and relying on God for help. Presbyterian Roger Lowe stated that an unfair blame caused him “great griefe. But God will help,” and so on.[25] The early Protestant tradition, which discouraged personal initiative and attributed exclusive agency to God, promoted feelings of sadness over the human condition. 

As human agency gained value with the modernization of society and the rise of individualism, the culture of sadness went on the decline.[26] Carol Barr-Zisowitz explains that the emotion of sadness is rooted in passive behavior and is inversely related to the idea of self-help.[27] Since sadness is defined within the deactivated part of the emotional spectrum,[28] when a person gains control over the events and undertakes action, feelings of sadness diminish or are transformed into anger. 

In the Age of Enlightenment religious thought developed rationalistic tendencies and set forth the idea of remedying evil and taking care of oneself. Moral philosophers raised the concept of self-love as a natural principle of Man bestowed by God. Enlightened men were supposed to seek happiness on earth and avoid misery. Educated English and American men took their mental well-being in their own hands, together with their material one. While tears were still very much in fashion, there was beginning to be some desirability for a “good cheer.” For example, the Cambridge evangelical poet John Byrom wrote as early as 1728 that “it was the best thing one could do to be always cheerful … and not suffer any sullenness … a cheerful disposition and frame of mind being the best way of showing our thankfulness to God.”[29] After the Great Awakening, New England theologians, such as Moses Hemmenway and Jonathan Edwards, reconciled self-love with the public good, claiming that only a society of autonomous individuals could be a good society.[30] The Bostonian minister Samuel Cooper preached in the 1750s that self-love complemented public virtue since both were necessary for “the Support and Happiness of the World.”[31]In the American public discourse, self-interest in commerce, for example, was associated not with love of wealth but with the enjoyment of independence—both communal (from Britain) and individual. Thus, William Findley, a Pennsylvania legislator who was attacked in 1786 for being motivated by a love of wealth, responded to his attackers:” I love and pursue it [wealth]—not as an end, but as a means of enjoying happiness and independence.”[32] 

On the other hand, wage-earners were also expected to be happy because of the good social and working conditions in the new continent: “The cheerful Labourer shall sing over his daily Task …” wrote Thomas Barnard of Boston in 1758. “A general Satisfaction shall run through all Ranks of Men … the Rich shall be better served and the Poor better paid.”[33] These new ideological frameworks placed some value on good humor as a sign of religious faith and social responsibility. One had a moral duty to attend to oneself and try to stay happy in the world. 

The eighteenth century saw the formation of the American middle class. A middle class identity involved, among other things, learning to manage one’s emotions.[34] For example, business failure among merchants was often explained by lack of moral and emotional control.[35] Thus, when Mifflin and Jones’s Philadelphia firm went bankrupt in 1771, Jones exposed Mifflin as “one of those Wretches whose Passions are easily raised … and hard to be composed by reason or justice.”[36] Social success presupposed personal style and that included emotional style. New conceptions of the body linked physical health to emotional stamina. When the 1793 Philadelphia epidemic of yellow fever killed more people among the poor than among the middle class, many believed that disease tended to strike “weak minds” which were susceptible to fear and panic.[37] The modern mindset involved an emotional duty to oneself and called for keeping up one’s spirits even in the face of calamity or tough luck. Remaining in bright spirits, on the other hand, ensured staying in the middle class in the case of economic ruin. Social emulation encouraged the display of happiness as a sign of prosperity even when prosperity was not the case.[38] Thus, the symbolic value of good cheer rose in relation to building a social identity and attaining status in capitalism. 

The idea of a strong self fully in control of the events was embraced by American ideologues who aimed to form a sovereign nation of independent individuals. “It is a part of the American character to consider nothing as desperate; to surmount every difficulty by resolution and contrivance,” wrote Thomas Jefferson to his little daughter Patsy; “to find means within ourselves and not to lean on others.”[39] The ethic of self-reliance entailed the depreciation of compassion and thus drained sadness of its virtuous meaning. Moderns developed an impatience with helplessness, which was accompanied by a distaste for grief and later translated into male aversion to tears.[40] Since cultural meanings form by opposition, the opposite emotion to sadness—cheerfulness—began to serve as a symbol for virtue when virtue was found to reside with self-help. A cheerful countenance came to be seen as a sign for an active personality, capable of solving its own problems. The newly valued qualities—a self-attained material and moral well-being and an ability to control one’s life—were represented by keeping in good spirits at all times. 

American Temperament through European Eyes

The culturally promoted standards of emotion were visible in the social reality especially to outsiders of the culture who compared the emotional ambiance in the U.S. to that of their own countries. About the time of the American Independence, European visitors to the U.S. began noticing that their American counterparts often exhibited a kind of positive disposition. One of the first writers to refer to this peculiar trait was the British journalist William Cobbett who emigrated to the U.S. in 1792. He repeatedly commented on “the good humour of Americans” which he interpreted in the framework of economic and political differences between Britain and the U.S. In the absence of all the historical causes of uneasiness—envy, jealousy and mutual dislike, he said, “society, that is to say, the intercourse between man and man, and family and family, becomes easy and pleasant.”[41] In Cobbett’s words, the American laborer had a whole dollar for his working day and the guarantee of free institutions of government, so his pride and plenty restrained him from any meanness or boobishness of character. “And thus would it be with all labourers, in all countries, were they left to enjoy the fair produce of their labour. […] shall I never see our English labourers in this happy state?”[42] 

Thus the positive disposition of Americans was embedded in the concept of free labor in capitalism by which America led over Europe. Multiple travelers to the U.S. after Cobbett saw a link between free labor and the display of happiness. Dickens contrasted the Lowell cotton mill girls to Manchester working girls saying that the difference was “between Good and Evil, the living light and deepest shadow.”[43] In the 1830s, young Lowell female workers took pride in making $3.00 a week and living on their own away from parents; they were found to be “cheerful and healthy” by Congressman Davy Crockett when he toured Massachusetts.[44] Work that brought about independence was socially constructed as a source of happiness and one felt one had to express that happiness in communication. The British traveler Francis Joseph Grund wrote in 1837 that an American would seldom complain because “[t]he sympathy he might create in his friends would rather injure than benefit him.” In a country built upon the assumption that everyone should pursue their happiness, failure to achieve that happiness lost one the respect of the others and “no one dared to show himself an exception to the rule.” The individual was expected to triumph over the circumstances, so westerners, for example, were “always ready to encounter danger and hardships with a degree of cheerfulness, which is easily perceived as the effect of moral courage and consciousness of power.”[45] The national paradigm of happiness and prosperity created an interest in the display of happiness or at least the energy to achieve that happiness. One of the most notable American traits described by foreign visitors was liveliness, interpreted by the more benevolent as a potential for good work and initiative, and by the more critically-minded—as anxiety or nervousness. British barrister Alexander Mackay struck the middle ground by remarking that Americans had a rather excessive vivacity[46]—from a European point of view. In any event, lively behaviors contributed to the impression of an elevated norm of affect. 

The social expectations for display of happiness in the U.S. opened a venue for bragging that almost every European acknowledged, although reacting to it differently. The most severe critic of American manners, Frances Trollope, bashed American boastfulness,[47] while Hungarian-born Ferencz and Theresa Pulszky, for example, tried to justify it by stating that “many of the citizens of the United States really believe that they have already attained the perfection at which they aim.”[48] Obviously, talking about the self in a positive manner was accompanied by a positive mood. 

European observers also linked American good humor to egalitarianism. Frenchmen marveled at the lack of caste distinction and, consequently, of any deference of manner. Brissot, La Rochefoucauld and General Lafayette were struck that inn-keepers ate together with their maids and served their guests with their hats on their heads.[49] British traveler Margaret Hall saw “a prickly insolence” in the American democratic demeanor and Patrick Shirreff talked about the “democratic rudeness.”[50] Since European etiquette was based on social hierarchy and complaisance, many a European saw in the American social behavior only complete lack of manners. However, as the Independence did away with European courtesy, a new, casteless nicety developed in the U.S. based on friendliness. The White House set up the tone. President Jefferson was the first one to show special tact in conducting free and animated conversation that was “equally pleasing” to all of his guests. His successor Madison left it to his wife Dolley to entertain visitors with her “unadulterated simplicity, frankness, warmth, and friendliness … [making] the President’s House the place where the best American manners were found.”[51]

The democratic code adopted egalitarian etiquette norms, such as handshaking—a gesture generating warmth and mutual trust on the basis of touch—which became the customary American greeting.[52] English traveler Harriet Martineau, who wrote volumes on American social manners in the 1830s, was struck that the first person she met in America, the hostess of a New York boardinghouse, shook hands with her and her company. The second person Martineau met was a gentleman who “afforded me an early specimen of the humour which I think one of the chief characteristics of Americans. In the few minutes during which we were waiting for tea, he dropped some drolleries so new to me, and so intense, that I was perplexed what to do with my laughter.” Subsequently, she described gay West Point cadets, chatty co-passengers, a New York deaf-mute asylum pervaded by “a general air of cheerfulness,” a loud and animated minister whose words “breathed the very spirit of joy,” and, finally, Noah Webster having a “serious but cheerful” manner. She saw so much cheerfulness around her that she even contrasted the Mount Auburn Cemetery to Père Lachaise by saying that the former had “cheerful glades” that teemed with the promise of life, thanksgiving and joy, while the latter displayed every expression of mourning and none of hope.[53] 

Another British visitor Frances Wright, who visited the U.S. for the first time in 1818 and eventually ended up living there, used the qualification of “cheerful” eleven times in the first eleven letters she sent back home and, in between, also described Americans as “good-humored,” “smiling,” “gay-hearted,” “lively,” “chatty,” “kind,” and “full of energy.” She contrasted American men to European, who were “beset by spleen,” and American women’s sweetness, liveliness and gaiety of heart—to English women’s coldness and indifference.[54] She explained the American temperament she saw in terms of social status: in America everybody was middle class and that excluded the rudeness and incivility of the lower or poorer classes, as well as the hauteur of the upper classes. Throughout the nineteenth century Europeans continuously interpreted the American character in the paradigm of democracy which was the most outstanding feature of the country for them. At the turn of the twentieth century, the German emigrant Hugo Münsterberg, who became a professor of psychology at Harvard, wrote that since the American has no condescension to those beneath nor servility to those above, “he feels in every situation self-assured and equal; he is simply a master of himself, polite but frank, reserved but always kind.”[55] While it seems hard to reconcile these opposite qualities, they can easily be combined by an emotional background of cheerfulness, which makes frankness acceptable because it also implies friendliness and suggests both self-centeredness and openness to others. And André Lafond was impressed as late as 1928 by “the good humor, the willingness, the desire to be useful, to be efficient, the lack of jealousy to be found everywhere in America,” “the people who laugh whole-heartedly and work conscientiously” and “the cordial relationships between store-keepers and customers.”[56] He thus combined the frameworks of free labor, egalitarianism, egocentric freedom and business interest to explain how the American character got emotionally shaped as cheerful. 

By the early twentieth century the national stereotype of Americans was fully built and cemented. The American temperament was marked by a notorious friendliness in relation to others and a no less notorious tendency to show off, rooted in egocentrism. Interestingly, while the former quality is other-directed and the latter is self-directed, their concurrence appears convincing if underpinned by cheerfulness—an emotion that serves both the self and others. 

The Ethic of Cheerfulness Is Socially Exploited

Over the nineteenth-century, the ethic of cheerfulness was also an essential part of Victorian women’s culture.[57] Victorian marriage guides emphasized the role of cheerfulness in family-keeping. In the Beecher sisters’ women’s guidebook[58] of 1869 cheerfulness is the primary character trait among others, such as gentleness and sympathy, desired of the ideal housewife. Cheerfulness is a duty a wife owes to her husband and a quality she needs to cultivate. Alcott’s guidebook for married women[59] has a chapter entitled “Cheerfulness,” which explains that a woman sustains her husband by keeping a beneficial emotional climate in the home. A husband should be able to rely on his wife’s “never-tiring cheerfulness” and a wife should learn to “always wear a smile.” Moreover, the Victorian wife is expected not to perform but to genuinely feel happy. Her smile should be “unaffected,” her own emotional self should be “uplifted,” and her cheerfulness should be not just physically displayed but inwardly felt.[60] In other words, women are asked to do constant emotion management and keep up the positive mood in the family as part of their housekeeping role.

Cheerfulness was imposed on the Victorian household within the framework of a male-dominated society that defined the home as a comfort place for the husband-breadwinner who should relax properly. Housemistresses were coached to ensure his peace of mind and learn to keep a “cheerful temper and tone” even with inefficient servants.[61] At the same time cheerfulness served as an ideology helping to construct women’s domestic happiness. Nineteenth-century American fiction persistently associated the well-domesticated home with “the habitually cheerful woman” while it made a woman’s sulkiness and moody behavior symptomatic of a failed role in domesticity and matrimony.[62] The happy wives and mothers of Elisabeth Phelps’ stories fill “cheerful parlors” with “cheerful chat” thus epitomizing the emotional culture of the middle-class woman-homemaker. For Nancy Schnog, it was the rhetoric of cheerfulness that made the selfless, subordinate woman a convincing happy figure: displaying her petty domestic joys, she actually experienced joy and, in result, persuaded herself into absorbing her social role.[63] Betty Friedan[64] found the same trend of the happy smiling housewife in women’s magazines of the 1950s. Middle class women have been a major social group fostering the culture of cheerfulness in the U.S. well beyond the Victorian Age and into the twentieth century. 

In the late Victorian Age cheerfulness extended to the industrial workplace which necessitated a productive social environment. The crammed factory halls were arena of frequent outbursts of argument and fights. It was important to make them anger-free and one way to do that was by transforming latent anger into cheerfulness, [65] thus creating a work-stimulating social climate in lieu of a destructive one. While nineteenth century factory rules targeted uniquely behavior (requiring nothing more than diligence, obedience and cleanliness), around the turn of the century the idea of emotional management began to enter managerial strategy.66 U.S. employers liked to see some passion on the job and made efforts to channel anger toward greater zeal and competitiveness. The 1920s saw significant company efforts to create a productive atmosphere in many industries. With the employment of large numbers of workers, measures were taken for “producing better cheer and less anger in the workplace,” as in the personnel initiatives of General Electric Hawthorne Plant.[67] Companies introduced testing for personal temperament to ensure an emotionally positive work environment. Henry Ford’s Americanization program, which involved psychology and experiments towards creating greater harmony in the industrial plant, presupposed emotional control.[68] Foremen and managers typically came from middle class homes where they had been brought up in a family culture of cheerfulness. Victorian women’s culture was bearing fruit. Managers like Frederick Taylor, who came from a wealthy family, and Elton Mayo, a significant figure in General Electric, were troubled by the discrepancy between the emotional standards they were used to in their homes and those they found in the work place, so they made efforts to introduce the domestic Victorian emotionology into the factory. The new generation of managers proved especially sensitive to the display of negative emotions around women when women entered the work force massively after World War I. The thought that women-workers might cry among peevish co-workers exerted subtle pressure on everybody and contributed to a “nice” social environment.[69] Women were intensively hired again after 1940 and filled the service sector where their abilities to do emotion management for others were exploited as emotion labor. By the 1970s, in Hochschild’s estimate, one half of all women working performed emotion management as a condition of holding the job.[70] Thus, female workers played a substantial part in upholding the positive emotional standards of the work environment. 

Cheerfulness penetrated the business sector as well. In the eighteenth century nicety to customers had not been necessary, since local producers held a virtual monopoly for their goods: “the surly village miller, like the grumpy artisan master and his equally demanding wife, is a staple of pre-industrial folk literature.”[71] But over the nineteenth century small business owners discovered the importance of the positive mood in the sales environment. Increasing competition required niceness to clients, including emotional niceness. The rising economy of mass consumption during the 1920s called for “cheerful salespeople careful to avoid provocation of vital customers.”[72] By the ’30s, “Smile school” was introduced on American railroads.[73] Dale Carnegie’s recipes on How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936) educated in cheerfulness as the most effective personal style for business and social purposes. Carnegie argued that a salesman should always wear a smile and return kindness for an insult. His book was obviously influential since it sold more than fifteen million copies over the years, setting a record for a non-fiction book.[74] 

By the 1930s, the culture of cheerfulness involved both genders and encompassed the home, the industrial work place, and the business and service sector. The middle class was instrumental in the orchestration of cheerfulness. It constituted the business ownership and occupied most managerial and leadership positions, and thus proved to be the driving force establishing the cheerful ethic in the public space. While corporations asked blue-collar workers for no more than anger-control, they held white-collar personnel—salesmen, secretaries, foremen and middle managers—to a much stricter emotional ideal which involved positive feelings.[75] In other words, the middle class headed a nation-wide movement for a modern emotionology, gradually engaging the lower classes through the job market, social expectations and structural constraints. 

Cultivation of Cheerfulness by Popular Philosophy

Various American popular philosophers and nonfiction writers helped spread the standard of cheerfulness. All through the last two centuries pleiades of books that could be called “How-to-live manuals” have preached that being cheerful is the right way of feeling. Titles such as Sunshine in Thought,[76]Cheerfulness as a Life Power,[77]A Little Creed of Wholesome Living,[78]A Little Book of Smiles and Joy and Sunshine,[79]The Influence of Joy,[80]Be Merry,[81]Enjoy Living,[82]How to Stop Worrying and Start Living,[83]Optimism: The Biology of Hope,[84]I’m So Happy,[85] to cite just a few, to this day propagate cheerfulness as the most valuable of emotions. The genre seems to have emerged from the American tradition of optimism but has also drawn on Reformational Christianity, the Puritan work ethic, health awareness, the rise of psychology, American etiquette and business culture. Some of the authors point out the biological and moral value of cheerfulness;[86] others take on a hedonistic tone,[87] yet a third kind associate cheerfulness with social and economic success.[88] In any event, they all try to educate the reader by various methods into looking, acting and thinking cheerfully. For example, Leland calls for the “rational cultivation of genial, cheerful thought” by keeping the body in good health and doing good work,[89] while Carnegie draws on William James’ recipe for inciting feeling through emotion display and emotion management: “Think and act cheerful and you will be cheerful!”[90] 

The philosophy of individualism defined cheerfulness as the most beneficial of emotions since it served the self. (In contrast, group cultures, such as traditional nationalism or pre-Reformational Christianity, tend to promote sadness as part of the ethic of compassion or self-sacrifice. A recent example was Milosevic’s political metaphor of Mother Serbia as a martyr, which drew on Eastern Orthodoxy and evoked sorrow.) The series of popular books on cheerfulness in this country represents the emotional aspect of American optimism and points to the American specifics of the culture of cheerfulness. For example, Leland, who was educated in Europe, denounced the melancholic European Romantic tendencies and claimed that “Sunshine in Thought” was especially suitable to America because it had a “young, brave-hearted race” and a “vigorous, cheerful industry,” as well as a free economic and political system.[91] European optimism, as far as it existed with Montaigne, Descartes, Leibniz, Pope, and a few others, was mostly a movement of rational thought that did not pay attention to emotions. Besides, optimism was never a dominant philosophy in Europe, while it constituted the main trend of thought in America, and as such, generated a good many popular philosophy books which focused on the emotional aspect of optimism. The tradition is still alive today. Recent authors[92] speak of “emotional intelligence” and try to redeem emotions after a long period of negative conceptualization; yet again, in pointing out how useful emotions are, they most often cite cheerfulness. In summary, there has been a significant amount of popular philosophy in the United States fostering cheerfulness. 

Twentieth-Century Emotional Preferences

Historical scholarship on emotions in America notes a tendency towards lowering the intensity of emotion experiences over the twentieth century. In Victorian culture emotions were highly valued: men and women were urged to feel intensely as long as they directed their emotions to good ends. For example, romantic love was a powerful sublimation of the sexual desire meant to ensure a long-lasting marriage.[93] Anger was not entirely undesirable, just cleverly channeled to competition.[94] Fear was sought as a challenge to build character and was used in boys’ education.[95] Grief was exalted in home-held funeral services with the entire house draped in black and the coffin kept open to sustain emotion.[96] Motherly love was glorified within the ideology of the bourgeois family.[97] Jealousy had a romantic tinge to it and was said to add spice to love,[98] and so forth. 

Over the twentieth century all of these emotions developed negative nuances. Romantic love became a subject of ridicule with the liberalization of the body and the sexualization of desire.[99] Anger came to be seen as “aggressiveness,” which civilization had made inadmissible.[100] Fear was found to be traumatizing and was minimized in the school exam system.[101] Grief was tuned down with the rise of social care and the hospitalization of death.[102] Mother love was said to produce “Mama’s boys” and to incapacitate children.[103] Jealousy became a sign of weakness and with the rise of individual freedom, was socially sanctioned as a form of “possessiveness,”[104] and so forth. A general negativity enveloped practically all discrete emotions as rational views solidified.[105] Intense emotions were found destructive and were made subject to therapy. A powerful emotional deintensification process began about the 1920s. The American etiquette obliged everyone to be nice and “niceness” excluded strong emotionality. Emotional restraint was advocated across the board amounting to what Peter Stearns has called “American cool.”[106] 

Joy was practically the only discrete emotion that remained positive. (Love was de-spiritualized and cautions were applied to its exaltation.[107]) Yet, positive affect was found problematic when too intense. Rapturous joy was remindful of religious euphoria, as in Pentecostal women of the 1930s.[108] Exuberant happiness or overwhelming love, for that matter, made one imprudent, distracted from goals and obstructed one’s social functioning. Life in capitalism obliged people to tame their passions in favor of calculating use.[109] Passions were seen as consuming and ultimately devastating. A fatal disease—tuberculosis, also called consumption—provided a favorite metaphor to represent the destructiveness of feverish emotions, such as pining or amorousness.[110] Intense emotions became a sign of immaturity and were sanctioned by public embarrassment.[111] The triumph of rationality was secured by a large social agreement to dampen the passions.[112]

The deintensification of emotions after the 1920s begs the question: were there any emotions that satisfied the twentieth-century criteria fora good emotion? If the culture enveloped almost all discrete emotions in negativity, except for joy, which it approved only on a moderate level of intensity, then cheerfulness and, perhaps, contentment, two of the main subcategories of joy, (see Figure 1) would have the greatest chance of being favored since they are both positive emotions of low-level intensity. However, within a capitalist framework, contentment can be promoted only as an ideal of consumerism, while cheerfulness serves both consumption and production, since it is activating and work-stimulating. As for unintense love as a possible alternative, it is too person-oriented to enhance productivity. Cheerfulness, on the other hand, was socially and economically effective, and individually beneficial. It emerged as the most useful of emotions in an increasingly rational culture. While we have no statistical data of emotion experience, cheerfulness must have been welcome on more social occasions than any other emotion and was thus persistently socially encouraged. Its deliberate cultivation is revealed by codes of conduct, etiquette books, business and social relations manuals, psychological counseling and magazine advice columns. To give a random example, cheerfulness is one of the twelve characteristics (together with trustworthiness, loyalty, bravery, and other qualities), required of Boy Scouts by the Boy Scout Law.[113] According to the 2003 Annual Reports of the Boy Scouts of America, 4.7 million youths participated in BSA programs over the year.[114] That is a significant number of young people educated in the ethic of cheerfulness every year. 

Figure 1
Taxonomy of emotion terms.

After Sandra Metts and John Bowers “Emotion in Interpersonal Communication,” Handbook of Interpersonal Communication, eds. Mark Knapp, Gerald Miller (Thousand Oaks, CA 1994) 508–541, p.511.

There is a real pressure on the average American to construct himself/herself as cheerful in order to get a job. A keyword search on retrieves about 200 jobs requiring a cheerful personality, among which are “mortgage originator,” “administrative manager-technology,” “accounts payable administrator,” bookkeepers, accountants, teachers, paralegal assistants, cashiers, and so forth. Recruitment agencies, such as, offer tips on job-interviewing advocating a display of cheerfulness.[115] Universities from Boston College to Berkeley train students in interviewing skills and advise among other things: “Be cheerful and smile.”[116] Clearly, cheerfulness is not limited to women, business and corporate culture, the middle class, or any other social group. Rather, it emerges as a national ethic. 

The cultural preference for cheerfulness can be well grasped in comparison with the status of all other emotions. While all kinds of emotions are quite desirable and necessary to people’s lives, they have been carefully directed to special niches, such as the theater, the pub, the dance club, film and fiction, various types of TV programming, the sensationalist press, and so on. For Todd Gitlin, today’s media serve as a means of emotion experience which is controlled, predictable, “disposable,” undemanding, and therefore, delectable.[117] Media is the culture’s ingenuous way of providing its members with exactly the kind of spontaneous experience they are missing in their rationally organized lives without impinging on their rational lifestyles. Consumers can engage in mass-mediated emotions to the full while retaining control over their emotion experience and avoiding the risks of personal communication. Media thus foster emotion consumerism.

As today’s media offer an enormous choice for savoring any specific kind of emotion at exactly the time and place, and intensity level one wishes to savor it, they also organize these experiences and institutionalize a certain emotional order in society. Far from eliminating emotions but actually finding many inventive ways for inducing them, twentieth-century culture has developed a new, more precise and highly reliable system of emotion regulation by confining emotions to specific time-space-consumer group cells. Our present-day “emotion spaces” are not exactly private since they can be public theaters, bars, casinos, stadiums, TV programs, print media, and so forth; they transcend the distinction between “public” and “private.” These are environments created for experiencing various emotions—individually or in-group—at a particular time and place (for example, a two-hour video). At the same time, cheerfulness remains the only emotion that is almost always appropriate in the vast public space. 

Media Amplification of Cheerfulness

The history of media and media production speaks to an escalation of cheerfulness over the twentieth century. One of the main factors shaping the physiognomy of the century, advertising, saw a shift in its emotional strategy from consumer drama to consumer happiness as the “warning” type of ad was replaced by the “product-satisfaction” ad.[118] Early twentieth-century advertisers threatened the consumer with social failure unless s/he used a certain product. For example, Listerine linked bad breath to spinsterhood to sell mouthwash and blamed ad-viewers as “guilty” of dandruff if they did not use the anti-dandruff shampoo.[119] But in the 1920s, advertisers began to entice consumers by portraying the pleasure of using a product. Soap ads sold “afternoons of leisure;”[120] Met Life promised healthy and happy life upon insurance.[121] For Jackson-Lears, the new trend to point out consumer happiness reflected the therapeutic ethos America had developed liberating itself from the Puritan ethic of self-denial and embracing consumer culture.[122] 

The work of Bruce Barton, an entrepreneurial adman of the epoch, is often cited as an epitome of the 1920s.[123] Barton, the son of a minister, published a book about Jesus Christ representing the son of God as a jovial, spirited, healthy and popular man, charming others into his credo more or less as a contemporary advertiser. Portraying Jesus in this untraditional light, Barton actually portrayed the emotional culture of the decade. The fact that the book became an immediate bestseller showed the public taste for the positive kind of emotionality Barton’s Jesus exhibited. The paradigm of cheerfulness had transformed an age-old icon of religious suffering into an image of healthy spirituality. 

The 1920s saw a boom of visual media. Illustrated magazines jumped up in circulation,[124] field signs sprung in thousands by railway lines, large urban billboards overlooked parks and streets.[125] The notion of consumer happiness had to be translated into simple visual codes accessible to mass audience. The smile, the most immediate symbol of human happiness, became a representational cliché. Business textbooks taught advertisers to show “someone enjoying the article,” like “a man smiling as he puffs at his cigar.”[126] Obviously, the physical incompatibility between puffing and smiling did not bother anyone. Smiling was linked to consuming and cheerfulness became a major emotional aspect of consumer culture. This popular Coca-Cola ad of the 1930s, although a bit fuzzy, shows eight smiling faces out of nine, the ninth person lacking a smile only because he is viewed from behind. (Figure 2.) 

Figure 2
Coca Cola advertisement, 1930s.

Printer!s Ink, July 28, 1938, p. 368–369.

When advertising went on the air, the notion of consumer happiness had to be put into aural codes. Crooning became popular and out of that, the singing commercial developed. Special techniques, such as Sonovox, made birds, beasts, foghorns and locomotives talk and sing.[127] With the implementation of electricity, visual animation was used to convey liveliness, as in “signs blowing smoke rings or bubbles, or giving out steam.”[128] There was a real effort to escape still life and use animated characters, such as the oat who “experienced the thrill of a lifetime” to be ground into Oat Flakes.[129] This interest in enlivening the picture spurred on cartoon art and the comic strip triumphed spreading funniness.[130] Finally, with television, “the maddening jingle” appeared.[131] 

Recycling the most comprehensive signs of moderate joy, the mass media saturated the public space with expressions of cheerfulness. The standardization process, typical of mass culture,[132] cemented the emotional model and the social environment was equipped with an ever-present background of cheerfulness. 

The media industry invented special devices to induce cheerfulness—something it has not done for any other emotion. The laugh track is a curious American invention, still resisted by many countries.[133] On the other hand, in the U.S. laugh track usage has escalated over the years[134] spurring on a highly paid professional industry that now turns out CDs of various kinds of laughter, from chuckling to mad howling.[135] Judging by its regular intervals, the laugh track serves not so much to point out the humor of a show as to keep the audience in an uplifted mood. Technologized laughter provokes cheerfulness through contagion among mass audiences.[136]

In the 1980s cheerfulness infiltrated the political space and Presidents since Ronald Reagan have appeared smiling on their official photos.[137] Various cultural artifacts, such as toys, balloons, decoration and amusement products, have also added to the large-scale background of cheerfulness in our environment. A paramount example is Harvey Ball’s smiley face, printed since 1963 on all kinds of artifacts from bumper stickers to T-shirts and tote bags. Scott Fahlman, who introduced it on e-mail to mark joking, is known to have said: “Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends,”[138] thus acknowledging a standard of cheerfulness in e-mail communication. The smiley face, which sold over 50 million buttons at its peak in 1971, [139] now runs the World Smile Corporation and the Smiley Store. Today there is a Smiley Section on EBay running for 45 pages and an “Official Smiley Dictionary” on the Web offering about five hundred smiling logos. Since 2002, pyrotechnical smileys have appeared in the skies over New York on the Fourth of July—perhaps, as a statement of the city’s resolve to keep up its spirits after September 11. The display of cheerfulness has increased with the development of media and technology. 

The Commercialization of Cheerfulness

In post-industrial capitalism, emotion management is commonly performed under economic and business pressures. The corporate economy has led to the commodification of human feeling.[140] For example, airline personnel undergo a special “relax and smile training” as part of their professional education. Emotion work—once a private affair—is now spelled out in job descriptions and manuals such as “The Airline Guide to Stewardess and Steward Careers.”[141] 

Emotion management at the work place is meant to implement the emotion culture an institution has adopted. Therefore, studies of emotion management portray well the standard of cheerfulness workers are expected to keep up. In Hochschild’s study of airline culture cheerfulness is maintained for a three-fold purpose. First, it ensures a productive work environment. As an office boss says, fully in line with the Victorian expectation that women should do emotion work for men: “I need a secretary who can stay cheerful when I go grouchy, when work piles up and everything goes wrong.”[142] A second goal is to create a sense of family around the company that would keep both personnel and passengers feeling happy and safe. Delta Airlines trains flight attendants not only to cheer up customers but to cheer up each other as part of their team-work.[143] Yet a third goal involves the old-time meaning of cheerfulness as a sign of managing problems well and being in control of the situation, which creates an aura of success about the company. The market competition has made business highly dependent on a company’s ethos of cheer.[144] 

The most common strategy of emotion management employees practice is a kind of Stanislavskian “deep acting” which ensures genuine emotion experience.[145] Surface acting, such as putting on a ready-made smile, is simply not enough. Corporations expect their staff to feel good about the work they do in order to appear convincing to clients. Similarly to Victorian marriage guidebooks, Delta asks that a flight attendant’s smile should come “from the inside out.”[146] The nineteenth-century home ethic has become twentieth-century’s corporate reality. 

Emotion labor takes its toll on the individual and often results in burnout, drug use or alcoholism.[147] A stewardess reports, “Sometimes I come off a long trip in a state of utter exhaustion but I find I can’t relax. I giggle a lot, I chatter, I call friends. It’s as if I can’t release myself from an artificially created elation that keeps me ‘up’ on the trip.”[148] Emotion management is especially psychically costly due to the upgraded norm of positive affect employees are trying to maintain. 

Cheerfulness in the work environment is not only institution-dictated but also autonomously performed.[149] In the highly industrialized world, where work tends to be boring for the worker, workers have every interest to keep up the positive mood. Hence, they like to do exactly the kind of emotion management the employer wants them to do. For example, supermarket personnel engage in recycling cheerfulness not only because the company expects them to, but also for their own benefit. Check stand clerks, who spend long hours confined behind a cash register, tend to develop habits of bantering, chatting and joking with customers. A 1993 Californian study[150] quotes a cashier who sounds right out of Dale Carnegie: “the best way to deal with a customer’s complaint is to take it with a smile;” another one amuses himself by tossing some items in the air before scanning them; a third one, female, carries smiley face stickers in her apron and hands them out to customers. Interestingly, she got these from her children, which shows that cheerfulness transcends the boundaries between home and work, the private and the public. By the 1990s cheerfulness was an all-pervasive social norm. 

Today, women, middle-class people and Protestants provide cultural leadership in maintaining the standard of cheerfulness.[151] An ethnographic study of emotion labor in a Roman Catholic nursing home found that the staff, exclusively African-American and of lower socioeconomic status, did a good deal of emotion management on an everyday basis; yet, there was an “absence of smiling and eye contact [which] are violations of the expectations for normal conversational behavior.”[152] As already pointed out, all other ethnographic studies of emotion management report a lot of smiling and friendly chat. The difference in emotion expression may be related to the nature of the work in a nursing home or to the cultural background of the personnel. I suggest that the investigator was actually struck by the lack of smiling and eye contact because he himself is a representative of suburban white culture, as he acknowledges,[153] and has been trained in the emotional standards of his own social group. Such observations define cheerfulness as an aspect of the dominant culture, which engages minority groups when they mix up with the mainstream, not so much when they remain segregated. Cheerfulness thus works as a hegemonic process individuals go in and out of, but society as a whole maintains. Perhaps, it is this hegemonic quality of cheerfulness that has kept it somewhat invisible to the academic eye: it is hard to take notice of cultural constructions that we all support. Yet, today’s cheerfulness is obviously an emotional construct which evolved in time and place and in relation to a specific social group. Taking a cross-cultural perspective once again will help us delimit it to today’s U.S. cultural space.

A Typically American Emotion

American emotion culture is usually grouped together with European under the notions of “western” or “modern” emotion culture, emotion management and etiquette. While comparative studies of emotional styles across continents are lacking, it is worth comparing the sparse studies of emotion management conducted in similar social environments in the U.S. and West Europe in order to outline the American specifics. Cas Wouters’ account of flight attendants’ emotion management on the Dutch Airline KLM[154] is easily paralleled with Hochschild’s study on Delta. The two authors examine the same kind of professional and corporate environment and find similar processes of emotion management. Yet, they describe two slightly different emotion cultures. 

In Wouters’ description of the Dutch air travel milieu the emphasis is on “play” and “pleasure”: what is most sought and valued, is “playfulness,” “extravertness,” “a skill in dealing with people,” “playing together [with passengers],” “playful flexibility,” and a “pleasurable flight”. In the words of one flight attendant, “playing” and “teasing” are employed as a defense against boredom.[155] 

Unlike the Dutch, U.S. airhosts try to cheer up passengers by chit-chat and constant smiling. For Wouters, the greatest danger threatening Dutch flight attendants is social promiscuity, which is fostered by the disengaged, short-lived relationships on the job, while for Hochschild, it is burnout and psychic exhaustion. It seems that the former would result from too much contact with strangers, while the latter would result from continuously maintaining an elevated state of positive affect. This suggests that American airline culture uses predominantly cheerfulness, while Dutch airline culture fosters affection for strangers. Both are unintense positive emotions but they fall into two different categories of emotions, joy and love. (See Figure 1.) 

Obviously, love is more other-directed than joy, which is more self-centered. The Dutch tend to rely on each other for arousing positive feelings and to experience them together—one cannot tease oneself—while the typical American positive feeling is often self-induced. For example, Hochschild’s emotion-laborers take a very individualistic stance in their emotion management, saying “I psyched myself up” or “I made myself have a good time.”[156] The Dutch, on the other hand, draw more on interpersonal contact (“playing together”)—which might be a leftover from a traditionally group culture where people used to spend a lot of time together. At any rate, the emotions, that the personnel on the two airlines experiences, are qualitatively different. 

The difference between the emotional norms of European and American society can be seen in the historical literature on emotion management. European studies focus on self-restraint from violence and sex or managing the emotions of love, hate and anger. Norbert Elias’ influential work[157] regards the whole civilization process as one of increasing control over emotions in connection with the nation-state, which monopolized physical force through the institutions of the army, the police and the prisons, and obliged people to constantly suppress their aggressive and sexual impulses. As individuals engaged in growing networks of interdependency, they were compelled to mind each other and employ strict mechanisms of self-restraint. Thus they developed feelings of repugnance and shame in relation to violence and, subsequently, social fears of repugnance, shame and embarrassment, which became their “second nature.”[158] Chronicling the development of emotion control in Europe since the Middle Ages, Elias analyzes at length the containment of love, sexuality, anger and hate. But while describing in great detail the upper and middle-class emotion culture of entire West Europe through courtly codes, bourgeois etiquette and everyday interpersonal communication, nowhere in his two-volume work does he as much as mention cheerfulness. 

Post-Eliasts deal almost exclusively with processes of informalization[159] after the long process of emotion formalization[160] in the European past. American studies, on the other hand, find a significant emotional homogenization in the U.S. as part of the process of Americanization or the formation of national culture. For Peter Stearns, America developed a strikingly uniform mainstream emotional culture over the twentieth century.[161] Today, European scholarship of emotions usually places emotion management in the context of etiquette, while American scholarship places it in the context of labor, where it is employed towards economic goals. Thus, American studies often describe a productive standard of cheerfulness, which, to the best of my knowledge, is missing from European studies. 

One of the sparse comparative studies of emotion management[162] argues that American society, being characterized by a higher social competition than European due to the absence of a traditional ranking system, is more focused on self-presentation and social success. Therefore, it makes greater use of conspicuous consumption, braggery, exaggeration and superlatives, than European societies. The lack of historical hierarchy also creates greater social anxiety and social friction than in Europe, so there is a constant need to lubricate social relations. Thus, the typically American customs of “Have a nice day” and “Get along with others by smiling affably” became openly embraced forms of social engineering.[163] The combination of these two major social needs—to predispose others favorably and to appear happy—calls for an emotional state that involves both joy at the company of others and personal happiness. On a moderate level of intensity, such feelings would amount to what is usually categorized as cheerfulness. Indeed, if we extrapolate the “feeling rule” behind the behaviors of smiling affably, showing friendliness, using superlatives (“great,” “fabulous,” “awesome”), emphasizing the positive, bragging, self-presentation and a concern “to be liked,” which the study lists as typically American,[164] we are very likely to get to an underlying emotion of cheerfulness. This refers us back to the historical European impression that Americans tend to keep a cheerful disposition— whether by doing constant emotion work or as their “second nature,” formed on the basis of social circumstances and cultural habit.[165 ]

Twentieth-century books of American etiquette written from a European perspective are quite sensitive to American emotion culture. A popular 1940s book of advice to German immigrants on the American ways of speech and behavior points out the difference between “the eternal optimism of the Americans and the deep-rooted pessimism of the Germans.” The author cautions incoming Germans against misinterpreting American friendliness for genuine interest in their persona and then suffering disappointment as nothing ensues from the initial all-too-encouraging contact.[166] While the book deals mainly with behaviors, it also characterizes American emotionality as over-positive and self-centered—from a German perspective. 

The American “friendliness” and “natural gaiety” have been a common stereotype in Europe. In Peabody’s famous account of the world’s national characters, international juries have a very high consensus on judging Americans as impulsive-expressive, spontaneous, gay and frivolous.[167] Taken together, the behaviors of optimism, friendliness, expressiveness, spontaneity, gaiety and frivolousness, which, in the popular European belief, seem to be more characteristic of Americans than of any other people in the world, suggest a habitual norm of cheerfulness that makes these behaviors possible. 

Salience of Depression and Awareness of the Uplifted Norm

Since cheerfulness is inversely related to depression, a cultural norm of cheerfulness might have repercussions on the general cultural attitude to depression. Transcultural psychiatry has found that the concept of depression is not well-known in the experience and lexicon of non-Western people.[168] One scholar of emotions writes: “Why a term with which we are so familiar should be hypocognized in this fashion is something of a mystery.”[169] The mystery is fully explicable from a constructivist perspective. While depression involves a physical state and/or some kind of chemical imbalance, it is also a cultural construct. “Depression” has been defined as “disturbance of affect” and even if we take “affect” to be a purely physiological phenomenon, the notion of whether, and at what point it is “disturbed” involves a judgment based on cultural norms. Obviously, while the chemical imbalance occurs physically in pretty much the same way in human beings anywhere, it is differently tolerated or unequally important in different societies.[170] Hence, the same physical condition may be linguistically marked or unmarked, conceptually elaborated and problematized to various degrees. 

The frequency of depression is found to be higher in Western societies.[171] One reason why this is so, might be that our definitions of abnormality are predicated on definitions of normality.[172] Catherine Lutz supposes that the Western conceptualization of depression is based on the assumption that the normal emotional state is one of slightly positive affect. “What is particularly deviant about the depressive is his failure to engage in the ‘pursuit of happiness’ or in the love of self that is considered to be normal and basic goal of persons.”[173] As we know, the “pursuit of happiness” is not a concept in any of the European constitutions. Perhaps, it is the American expectation for a positive life-experience and a positive emotion experience in conjunction with that, that makes feelings of sadness and despair more pathological in this culture than anywhere else. Some psychiatrists believe that depression is too easily diagnosed in the U.S. and have tried to introduce the concept of “normal depression,” advocating that “most depression is not a sickness.”[174] 

The experience and manifestation of depression have been reported to vary as a function of Westernization.[175] Historical psychiatry has argued that depression becomes more salient with modernization.[176] Stearns points out that depression was the most common deviant emotional state in twentieth-century America, while, in the nineteenth century, it was hysteria.[177] This suggests that the norm of positive affect must have gone up and/or become more widespread and/or more stable over the course of the twentieth century. Since “cheerfulness” and “depression” are bound by opposition, the more one is normalized, the more negative the other will appear. With the spread of cheerfulness fears of depression have increased, amounting to a sizeable drug-and psychotherapeutic industry. 

At the same time, business and corporate pressures on workers to look upbeat might be causing the psychic burnout Hochschild unveiled, which would be easily diagnosed as depression. To avoid workers’ absenteeism, companies now pay for employees’ mental health care. Delta Airlines, which institutionalized positive emotion management in the 1970s, now spent nine million dollars paying the bulk of the costs of antidepressants for its employees and their dependents in 2003.[178] But the commercialization of feeling is only one of the factors boosting cheerfulness. Another one is the national emotional etiquette which makes any kind of grumpy condition subject to public reproach. Recently a Florida activist group put on a national event called “The Great American Grump Out.” The group staged a “Drive-By Smiling” campaign flashing cardboard smiley-faces at passing motorists. It says it aims to do for cantankerousness what the Great American Smoke-Out did for tobacco addiction—purge low spirits from the culture.[179]

There is some awareness among intellectuals and public activists of a rather wearing cheerfulness in this culture. The press has reported that “a growing band of psychologists believes the pressure to be cheerful glosses over a person’s need for a good moan every so often and may make some people very depressed.”[180] APA organized a panel in 2000 on “The Tyranny of the Positive Attitude” and Dr. Barbara Held has attacked the pervasive view that one must remain positive at all times, as in the common American aphorisms “Cheer up! Things could be worse,” and “Smile, look on the bright side of life.”[181] “First you feel bad,” she says, “then you’re told you’re defective for not being cheerful about it.”[182] Her book Stop Smiling, Start Kvetching was accompanied by the production of T-shirts with the smiley face crossed out, but these did not sell well, suggesting that the public is reluctant to give up on its cheerfulness. 

Some critically minded doctors have appealed for rehabilitating the opposite emotions of cheerfulness, such as sadness and melancholy, now negatively viewed. Peter Cramer, MD, who is concerned with the abuse of Prozac, recommends sadness as a source of creativity and spiritual life. He points out that the gloom of the ’60s represented courage and is perhaps needed again as “a germ of resistance to a culture thriving on competition, consumption and celebrity.”[183] Critical social thought has linked the all-too-positive emotional mindset to a lack of social and political consciousness. Ellen Willis entitled ironically her critical analysis of the ’90s “Don’t Think, Smile,” seeing the cheerful attitude as a denial of the political and social realities.[184] Sociologist Todd Gitlin has associated excessive use of cheerfulness with Republican complacency.[185] Titles, such as “Seeing Pessimism’s Place in a Smiley-Faced World,”[186] “The Positive Power of Negative Thinking,” and Andy Rooney’s defense of complaining as a way of correcting what is not going right,[187] have cautioned the public that, perhaps, it has gone too far with the cult of cheerfulness. After September 11 this cult has been both questioned and emphasized. It will remain for future studies to examine its proportions.
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1. Peter Stearns and Carol Stearns, “Emotionology: Clarifying the History of Emotions and Emotional Standards,” American Historical Review 90 (1985): 13–36

2. Arlie Hochschild, “Emotion Work, Feeling Rules, and Social Structure,” American Journal of Sociology 85 (1979): 551–75, p. 551

3. Erving Goffman, in The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (Woodstock, 1959), shows how we perform in our social encounters, as well as in relation to our own self-image, in order to negotiate a self-identity and to have meaningful interaction with others.

4. Hochschild, “Emotion Work, Feeling Rules, and Social Structure,” p. 561

5. Steven Gordon, “Social Structural Effects on Emotion,” Research Agendas in the Sociology of Emotions, ed. Theodore Kemper (New York, 1990): 145–179; Hochschild, “Emotion work, feeling rules, and social structure”; Theodore Kemper, “Social Models in the Explanation of Emotions,” Handbook of Emotions, eds. Michael Lewis, Jeanette Haviland-Jones (New York, 2000): 45–58, p. 51

6. William James, “What Is an Emotion?” Mind 9 (1884): 190–204, p. 198.

7. Sandra Duclos, James Laird, Eric Schneider, Melissa Sexter, Lisa Stern and Oliver Van Lighten, “Emotion-Specific Effects of Facial Expressions and Postures on Emotional Experience,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 57 (1989): 100–108; Sabine Stepper and Fritz Strack, “Proprioceptive Determinants of Emotional and Non-Emotional Feelings,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 64 (1993): 210–22; and others.

8. Fritz Strack, Leonard Martin and Sabine Stepper, “Inhibiting and Facilitating Conditions of the Human Smile: A Non-Obtrusive Test of the Facial Feedback Hypothesis,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 54 (1988): 768–76

9. Hochschild, “Emotion Work, Feeling Rules, and Social Structure,” p. 562

10. A purely physical arousal without a cognitive component amounts to no more than an organismic reaction which is insufficient to be recognized as emotion. (See Stanley Schahter and Jerome Singer, “Cognitive, Social and Physiological Determinants of Emotional State,” Psychological Review 69 [5] [1962]: 379–99.) In fact, one and the same bodily reaction may be perceived as different emotions, depending on the situation one is in; on the other hand, the same avowed emotion may be physically experienced differently by different subjects. (See G.P. Ginsburg and Melanie Harrington, “Bodily States and Context in Situated Lines of Action,” The Emotions: Social, Cultural and Biological Dimensions, eds. Rom Harré and Gerrod Parrott [London/Thousand Oaks, 1996]: 229–258.) Hence, emotions are an amalgam of bodily sensation and awareness, which is why we think of animals as lacking emotions and experiencing just drives—the physical part of emotions, devoid of consciousness.

11. Emotions have appeared and disappeared historically. For example, medieval Europeans recognized well the emotion of Accidie (acedia)—a kind of spiritual torpor characterized by boredom, dejection and aversion to fulfilling one’s religious duty (praying), which, in modern times, became obsolete. (See Rom Harré and Robert Finlay-Jones, “Emotion Talk Across Times,” The Social Construction of Emotions, ed. Rom Harré [Oxford, New York, 1986]: 220–233

12. For example, the Japanese emotion of amae—presuming upon another’s love, the Bengali obhiman—sorrow caused by the insensitivity of a loved one, and the Spanish vergüenza ajena—an empathetic embarrassment for someone misbehaving in public, have no equivalents among the emotion lexicon of other nations (James Russell “Culture and the Categorization of Emotions,” Psychological Bulletin 110 [3] [1991]: 426–450

13. Jan Lewis and Peter Stearns, “Introduction” to An Emotional History of the United States, eds. Peter Stearns and Jan Lewis (New York, 1998): 1–14, p. 2

14. Peggy Thoits, “Emotional Deviance: Research Agenda,” Research Agendas in the Sociology of Emotions, ed. Theodore Kemper (New York, 1990): 180–203; Catherine Lutz, “Depression and the Translation of Emotional Worlds,” Culture and Depression: Studies in the Anthropology and Cross-Cultural Psychiatry of Affect and Disorder, eds. Arthur Kleinman and Byron Good (Berkeley, 1985): 63–100

15. Carol Stearns “Lord Help Me Walk Humbly: Anger and Sadness in England and America, 1570–1750,” Emotion and Social Change: Toward a New Psychohistory, eds. Carol Stearns and Peter Stearns (New York, 1988): 39–68

16. Carol Stearns, “Lord Help Me Walk Humbly: Anger and Sadness in England and America, 1570–1750,” p. 54. The specific emotionological change referred to here will be discussed in the next section, “The Shift.”

17. Anne Amend, “Melancholy,” Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment, ed. Michel Delon (Chicago, 2001): 822–826.

18. Anne Amend, “Melancholy,” p. 823.

19. Anne Vincent-Buffault, The History of Tears (New York, 1991).

20. Ann Vincent-Buffault, The History of Tears, p. 8

21. Anne Vincent-Buffault, The History of Tears, pp. 9–14

22. Ann Vincent-Buffault, The History of Tears, pp. 78–89

23. Allan Nevins, America Through British Eyes, (New York, 1948), p. 158

24. Carol Stearns, “Lord Help Me Walk Humbly: Anger and Sadness in England and America, 1570–1750”

25. The examples in this paragraph are from Carol Stearns, “Lord Help Me Walk Humbly: Anger and Sadness in England and America, 1570–1750,” p. 41–42

26. Carol Stearns, “Lord Help Me Walk Humbly: Anger and Sadness in England and America, 1570–1750”

27. Carol Barr-Zisowitz,” ‘Sadness’—Is There Such a Thing?” Handbook of Emotions, p. 607–622.

28. James Russell and Ghyslaine Lemay, “Emotion Concepts, Handbook of Emotions, p. 491–503; Carol Barr-Zisowitz, “‘Sadness’—Is There Such a Thing?” Handbook of Emotions, p. 607–622.

29. John Byrom’s diary, quoted in Carol Stearns, “Lord Help Me Walk Humbly: Anger and Sadness in England and America, 1570–1750,” p. 51

30. Joseph Conforti, “Samuel Hopkins and the New Divinity: Theology, Ethics, and Social Reform in Eighteenth-Century New England,” William and Mary Quarterly 34 (4) (1977): 572–589

31. John Crowley, This Sheba, Self: The Conceptualization of Economic Life in Eighteenth-Century America, (Baltimore, 1974) p. 91–2

32. John Crowley, This Sheba, Self: The Conceptualization of Economic Life in Eighteenth-Century America, p. 153

33. John Crowley, This Sheba, Self: The Conceptualization of Economic Life in Eighteenth-Century America, p. 106

34. Jacquelyn Miller, “An ‘Uncommon Tranquility of Mind’: Emotional Self-Control and the Construction of a Middle-Class Identity in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia,” Journal of Social History 30 (1) (1996): 129–148, p. 129–30

35. Toby Ditz, “Shipwrecked; or, Masculinity Imperiled: Mercantile Representations of Failure and the Gendered Self in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia,” The Journal of American History 82 (1) (1994): 51–71

36. Toby Ditz, “Shipwrecked; or, Masculinity Imperiled: Mercantile Representations of Failure and the Gendered Self in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia,” p. 60

37. Jacquelyn Miller, “An ‘Uncommon Tranquility of Mind’: Emotional Self-Control and the Construction of a Middle-Class Identity in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia,” p. 140

38. Cary Carson, “The Consumer Revolution in Colonial British America: Why Demand?,” Of Consuming Interests: The Style of Life in the Eighteenth Century, eds. Cary Carson, Ronald Hoffman, and Peter J. Albert (Charlottesville, VA/London, 1994): 483–697; Alison Bell, “Emulation and Social Empowerment: Material, Social and Economic Dynamics in Eighteenth-and Nineteenth-Century Virginia,” International Journal of Historical Archaeology 6 (4) (2002): 253–298

39. Mary Cable, American Manners and Morals: A Picture History of How We Behaved and Misbehaved (New York, 1969), p. 93

40. Peter Stearns, American Cool (New York, 1994), p. 90

41. William Cobbett, A Year’s Residence in the United States of America (New York, 1969), p. 347

42. Allan Nevins, America Through British Eyes, p. 67

43. Allan Nevins, America Through British Eyes, p. 91

44. Mary Cable, American Manners and Morals, p. 94

45. Francis Joseph Grund, The Americans in Their Moral, Social and Political Relations (New York, 1968), pp. 173–4, 205

46. Allan Nevins, America Through British Eyes, p. 206

47. Frances Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans (New York, 1949), pp. 161–2, 317–19, 325, 329–30, 408–9.

48. Ferencz Pulszky, White, Red, Black; Sketches of Society in the United States by Francis and Theresa Pulszky during the Visit of Their Guest Lajos Kossuth (New York, 1853), p. 175

49. Charles Sherrill, French Memories of Eighteenth-Century America (New York, 1971), p. 224–5

50. Jack Larkin, The Reshaping of Everyday Life, 1790–1840 (New York, 1988), p. 156

51. Mary Cable, American Manners and Morals, p. 83

52. Jack Larkin, The Reshaping of Everyday Life, 1790–1840, p. 155–6

53. Harriet Martineau, Retrospect of Western Travel (New York, 2000), vol. 1, p. 43–4, 58, 134–5, 142–3; vol. 3, p. 111–12, 120–21, 228, 242–5, 276–8.

54. Frances Wright, Views of Society and Manners in America (Cambridge, MA, 1963), p. 16, 23, 27

55. Huge Münnsterberg, The Americans (New York, 1904), p. 536

56. André Lafond, Impressions of America (Paris/New York, 1930), p. 102–7

57. Nancy Schnog, “Changing Emotions: Moods and the Nineteenth-Century American Woman Writer,” Inventing the Psychological: Toward a Cultural History of Emotional Life in America, eds. Joel Pfister and Nancy Schnog (New Haven, 1997): 84–109

58. Catherine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe, American Women’s Home:Or, Principles of Domestic Science (Hartford, CT, [1869] 1987)

59. William Alcott, The Young Wife; Or, Duties of Women in the Marriage Relation (Boston, 1837)

60. Nancy Schnog, “Changing Emotions: Moods and the Nineteenth-Century American Woman Writer,” p. 93

61. Peter Stearns, “Anger and American work,” Emotion and Social Change, eds. Carol Stearns and Peter Stearns (New York, 1988), p. 127–8

62. Nancy Schnog, “Changing Emotions: Moods and the Nineteenth-Century American Woman Writer”

63. Nancy Schnog, “Changing Emotions: Moods and the Nineteenth-Century American Woman Writer,” pp. 93–4

64. Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique (New York, [1963] 1983)

65. The transformation of anger into cheerfulness is possible because the two emotions are close in many respects. Both involve arousal rather than lethargy; the difference is categorizational and has to do to some extent with cultural conceptions of positive-negative emotions and varying views of aggression. Even today there are societies that experience anger positively (see James Russell, “Culture and the Categorization of Emotions.”) Sometimes anger and cheerfulness can be confused, as, for example, in teasing or tickling.

66. Peter Stearns, “Anger and American work”

67. Peter Stearns, “Anger and American work,” p. 128

68. Peter Stearns, “Anger and American work,” p. 129

69. Peter Stearns, American Cool, p. 122, 219

70. Arlie Hochschild, The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling (Berkeley, 1983), p. 11

71. Peter Stearns, “Anger and American work,” p. 124

72. Peter Stearns, “Anger and American work,” p. 129

73. Cas Wouters, “Etiquette Books and Emotion Management,” An Emotional History of the United States, eds. Peter Stearns and Jan Lewis (New York, 1998): 283–304, p. 299

74. Dale Carnegie Page,

75. Peter Stearns, “Anger and American work,” p. 135; Peter Stearns, American Cool, p. 219

76. Charles Godfrey Leland (Gainesville, FL, 1862)

77. Orison Swett Marden (New York, 1899)

78. Ralph Waldo Trine, On the Open Road: being some thoughts and a little creed of wholesome living (New York, 1908)

79. Wilbur Nesbit (Chicago, 1911)

80. George Van Ness Dearborn (Boston, 1920)

81. A. Hopkinson, Be Merry: Some Thoughts on Mirth as a Christian Duty (Milwaukee, 1925)

82. Robert Haven Schauffler, Enjoy Living: An Invitation to Happiness (New York, 1939)

83. Dale Carnegie (New York, 1951)

84. Lionel Tiger (New York, 1979)

85. Marvin Heiferman and Carole Kismaric (New York, 1990)

86. Orison Marden, Cheerfulness as a Life Power; Dearborn, The Influence of Joy

87. Charles Leland, Sunshine in Thought; Schauffler, Enjoy Living: An Invitation to Happiness

88. Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

89. Charles Leland, Sunshine in Thought, p. 16

90. Dale Carnegie, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, p. 100

91. Charles Leland, Sunshine in Thought, p. 4, 8, 96

92. Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence (New York, 1995); Dylan Evans, Emotion: The Science of Sentiment (New York, 2001)

93. As Eliza Duffey, in The Relation of the Sexes (1876), exclaimed: “Is it not possible that there may be a love strong enough and abiding enough, untinged by passion, to hold a husband and wife firm and fast in its bonds, and leave them little to desire? […] I believe in marriage all through—the soul, the mind, the heart, and the body, and I would make the last the weakest and least indispensable tie.” Quoted in Peter Stearns, American Cool, p. 36

94. Peter Stearns, American Cool, p. 30, 63, 84, 127

95. Peter Stearns and Timothy Haggerty, “The Role of Fear:Transition in American Emotional Standards for Children, 1850–1950,” American Historical Review, 96 (1991): 63–94

96. Mary Cable, American Manners and Morals, p. 175

97. Valerie Polakow, Lives of the Edge (Chicago/London, 1993), p. 22–40

98. Peter Stearns, American Cool, p. 26, 33–4

99. For an elaborate analysis of the sexualization of love see Kevin White, “The New Man and Early Twentieth-Century Emotional Culture in The United States,” An Emotional History of the United States, eds. Peter Stearns and Jan Lewis (New York, 1998): 333–356, and Cas Wouters, “Balancing Sex and Love since the 1960s Sexual Revolution,” Theory, Culture and Society 15 (3): 187–214

100. Norbert Elias, The Civilizing Process (New York, [1939] (1982)

101. Peter Stearns and Timothy Haggerty, “The Role of Fear:Transition in American Emotional Standards for Children, 1850–1950”

102. Peter Stearns and Mark Knapp, “Historical perspectives on grief,” The Emotions: Social, Cultural and Biological Dimensions, eds. Rom Harré and Gerrod Parrott (London/Thousand Oaks, 1996), p. 132–150

103. Peter Stearns, American Cool, p. 168–171

104. Peter Stearns, American Cool, p. 26, 87, 99

105. On the growing negativity of emotions in the age of Modernity see James Averill, “On the Paucity of Positive Emotions,” Advances in the Study of Communication and Affect, Vol. 6: Assessment and Modification of Emotional Behavior, eds. Kirk Blankstein, Patricia Pliner and Janet Polivy (New York/London, 1978): 7–45; and Catherine Lutz, “Engendered Emotion: Gender, Power and the Rhetoric of Emotional Control in American Discourse,” The Emotions: Social, Cultural and Biological Dimensions, eds. Rom Harré and Gerrod Parrott (London/Thousand Oaks, 1996): 151–170

106. For an exhaustive analysis of twentieth century tendency to emotion deintensification see Peter Stearns, American Cool. The process is also treated by Kevin White, “The New Man and Early Twentieth-Century Emotional Culture in the United States,” Linda Rosenzweig, “‘Another Self’? Middle-Class American Women and Their Friends, 1900–1960,” An Emotional History of the United States, 357–376, Otniel Dror, “Creating the Emotional Body: Confusion, Possibilities, and Knowledge,” 173–195, and others.

107. Peter Stearns, American Cool, p. 240–242; Kevin White, “The New Man and Early Twentieth-Century Emotional Culture in the United States;” Cas Wouters, “Balancing Sex and Love since the 1960s Sexual Revolution”

108. Marie Griffith, “‘Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory’: The Vocabulary of Pious Emotion in the Narratives of American Pentecostal Women, 1910–1945,” An Emotional History of the United States (New York, 1998): 218–240

109. Georg Simmel explains that the money economy cultivated rationalism as a lifestyle demanding restraint over emotions in consideration of usefulness. See Georg Simmel, The Philosophy of Money (London, [1900] 1978).

110. Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor (New York, 1978)

111. Peter Stearns, American Cool, p. 245

112. Peter Stearns, American Cool, p. 139

113. Dean Murphy, “Eagle Scout Faces Official Challenge over His Lack of Faith” New York Times, 11/03/2002, p. A 20; “What Is Boy Scouting?” BSA Fact Sheets,

114. Boy Scouts of America, 2003 Annual Report,;=fs

115., “10 Steps to a Successful Interview”,

116. See Boston College Career Center, Interview techniques,, and University of California Berkeley, Career Center, “10 Most Common Interview Mistakes,” 9/27/2002,

117. Todd Gitlin, in Media Unlimited: How the Torrent of Images and Sounds Overwhelms Our Lives (New York, 2001), argues that we use media primarily as sources of emotion experience (not information).

118. Roland Marchand, Advertising and the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity 1920–1940 (Berkeley, 1986), p. 18–23, 120–122; T.J. Jackson-Lears, “The Rise of American Advertising,” Wilson Quarterly 1 (1983): 156–167

119. Roland Marchand, Advertising and the American Dream, p. 18, 21; Stephen Fox, The Mirror Makers: A History of American Advertising and Its Creators (New York, 1984), p. 97–8

120. Roland Marchand, Advertising and the American Dream, p. 23

121. George French, Twentieth century advertising (New York, 1926), p. 62

122. T.J. Jackson Lears, “From Salvation to Self-Realization: Advertising and the Therapeutic Roots of the Consumer Culture, 1880–1930,” The Culture of Consumption: Critical Essays in American History, 1880–1980, eds. Richard Fox and T.J. Jackson-Lears (New York, 1983): 3–38

123. Stephen Fox, The Mirror Makers: A History of American Advertising and Its Creators, p. 101–12; T.J. Jackson Lears, “From Salvation to Self-Realization,” p. 29–38

124. While it is hard to establish the exact growth in numbers, since the U.S. census classifies magazines under the general heading of “periodicals”, the number of monthly periodicals, which is a good barometer of the magazine trend, grew from 3,415 in 1920 to 4,110 in 1930 and dropped back to 3,501 in 1940. Aggregate per-issue circulation was reported at 128,621,000 in 1923 and going up to 202,022,000 in 1929, but dropping to 174,759,000 in 1933. The magazine industry definitely soared in the 1920s. See Theodore Peterson, Magazines in the twentieth century (Urbana, IL, 1956), p. 53–54.

125. These visual media came in response to the needs of flourishing capitalism. A giant billboard could be noticed by great masses of people without any effort on their part. The New York Traffic Audit Bureau, which leased the sites of the city, estimated that a big sign in Times Square attracted more thana million pairs of eyes in twenty-four hours, not to mention the millions who saw it through the cinema and illustrated magazines without ever visiting New York (Ernest Turner, The Shocking History of Advertising [New York, 1953] p. 294–297.) Visual messages also suited the accelerated pace of life. They were meant to catch the eye of men and women who “[took] their knowledge, like their lunches, on the run” (anonymously quoted in T.J. Jackson-Lears, “The Rise of American Advertising,” p. 160). Outdoor signs were a much more democratic information tool than any print media. An advertising textbook of the epoch recommends using street-car cards, billboards and outdoor display because “they are for the eyes of everyone, regardless of wealth and education … Pictures and color speak a more universal language than words.” (Harry Tipper, The Principles of Advertising [New York, 1920], p. 190.)

126. Harry Tipper, The Principles of Advertising, p. 159

127. Ernest Turner, The Shocking History of Advertising, p. 321

128. Ernest Turner, The Shocking History of Advertising, p. 297

129. T.J. Jackson-Lears, “The Rise of American Advertising,” p. 165

130. In 1931 Gallup established that the comic strip was by far the most popular part of newspapers, its readership surpassing the readership of the leading news stories (Roland Marchand, Advertising and the American Dream, p. 110.)

131. Ernest Turner, The Shocking History of Advertising, p. 336

132. As the Frankfurt scholars have pointed out, mass culture creates standardized art products to be offered to great masses of people and, therefore, has a standardizing effect on popular taste and our sense of aesthetics. See Theodore Adorno, The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture (London, 1991); John Storey, “Popular Music,” Cultural Studies and the Studies of Popular Culture, ed. John Storey (Athens, GA, 1996): 93–112; Dwight McDonald, “A Theory of Mass Culture,” Cultural Studies and the Studies of Popular Culture, ed. John Storey (Athens, GA, 1996): 22–36, etc.

133. Japan, Russia, Indonesia, Greece and Turkey are among those that do not use laugh tracks in their indigenous programming and American serials are often shown elsewhere with the laugh tracks cut back. For example, Bewitched is aired in Brazil without the laugh track, and in France—with reduced laugh tracks. (Victor Mascaro,

134. As comedy writer Robert Orben said: “Now […] when a TV father comes down to breakfast and says ‘good morning’, the laugh track has already started to giggle.” (Robert Orben,” The Studio Audience,” TV Book: The Ultimate Television Book, ed. Judy Fireman (New York, 1977): 43–45

135. Dick Hobson, “The Hollywood Sphinx and His Laff Box,” Television: A Selection of Readings from TV Guide Magazine, ed. Barry Coles (New York, 1970): 194–200; “Laughing for Dollars,” Good Housekeeping, September 1998

136. Robert Provine, among others, explains the contagious effect of laughter in Laughter: A Scientific Investigation (New York, 2000).

137. Fred Schroeder, “Say Cheese! The Revolution in the Aesthetics of Smiles,” Journal of Popular Culture 32 (2) (1998): 103–145, p. 127

138. Matt Loney, “First ‘Smiley’ Shows Its Face,”

139. “Smiley Inventor Dies at 79,” Associated Press, Worcester MA, 4/13/2001

140. Arlie Hochschild, in The Managed Heart, argues that corporations use human feeling as a commodity since they pay for emotion labor as part of the job. As she says, “Cheerfulness in the line of duty becomes something different from ordinary good cheer” (Hochschild, The Managed Heart, p. 189.)

141. Arlie Hochschild, The Managed Heart, p. 119

142. Arlie Hochschild, Managed Heart, p. 148

143. Arlie Hochschild, Managed Heart, p. 114–116

144. Arlie Hochschild, Managed Heart, p. 91–93

145. Hochschild explains that effective emotion management, just as Stanislavski’s theater school, triggers genuine feeling. Arlie Hochschild, Managed Heart, p. 38–48

146. Arlie Hochschild, Managed Heart, p. 121

147. Arlie Hochschild, The Managed Heart, p. 131

148. Arlie Hochschild, The Managed Heart, p. 4

149. Martin Tolich, in “Alienating and Liberating Emotions at Work: Supermarket Clerks’ Performance of Customer Service” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 22 (3) (1993): 361–381, James Sass, in Emotional Labor as Cultural Performance in a Non-Profit Nursing Home, Doctoral Dissertation (Arizona State, 1997), and Cas Wouters, in “The Sociology of Emotions and Flight Attendants: Hochschild’s Managed Heart,” Theory, Culture and Society 6 (1989): 95–123, argue that the locus of control in emotion management at work rests with the individual.

150. Martin Tolich, “Alienating and Liberating Emotions at Work”

151. Arlie Hochschild, in The Managed Heart, p. 57, states that these social groups do more emotion management than others; however, she means that they do the kind of emotion management she found on Delta, which is, sustaining cheerfulness.

152. James Sass, Emotional Labor as Cultural Performance in a Non-Profit Nursing Home, p. 171

153. James Sass, Emotional Labor as Cultural Performance in a Non-Profit Nursing Home, p. 48

154. Cas Wouters, “The Sociology of Emotions and Flight Attendants: Hochschild’s Managed Heart”

155. Cas Wouters, “The Sociology of Emotions and Flight Attendants: Hochschild’s Managed Heart,” p. 116

156. Arlie Hochschild, The Managed Heart, p. 224

157. Norbert Elias, The Civilizing Process

158. Elias’ view of emotions has recently been boosted by Luria’s neurological discovery that learning new practices actually reshapes our neural pathways and the human nerve system (see Aleksandr Luria, Human Brain and Psychological Processes, New York, 1966.) The cultural habits we adopt may turn into biological mechanisms. Elias made that assumption on the basis of historical data 30 years before Luria conducted his scientific experiments. Others had implied it too: for example, Georg Simmel had shown how the behavior of faithfulness substituted for the original psychic states that had brought about a relationship, thus “giving rise to deeper and more adequate feeling states” (The Sociology of Georg Simmel, Glencoe, IL, 1950, p. 381.) Obviously, culturally trained behavior changes our emotional capacities.

159. See Abram de Swaan, “From Management by Command to Management by Negotiation,” The Management of Normality: Critical Essays in Health and Welfare (London/New York, 1990); Jürgen Gerhards, “The Changing Culture of Emotions in Modern Society” Social Science Information 28 (4) (1989): 737–754; Ronald Inglehart, Culture Shift in Advanced Industrial Society (Princeton, NJ, 1990); Cas Wouters, “Formalization and Informalization: Changing Tension Balances in Civilizing Processes,” Theory, Culture and Society 3 (2) (1986): 1–18; Hans Bertens, “Why Molly Doesn’t: Humanism’s Long, Long Shadow,” Emotion in Postmodernism, eds. Gerhard Hoffman and Alfred Horning (Heidelberg, Germany, 1997): 25–37; Willem Mastenbroek, “Organizational Behavior as Emotion Management,” (2000), and others.

160. Elias argues that Europe underwent powerful processes of emotion formalization that enabled people to form the modern society (Norbert Elias, The Civilizing Process.)

161. Peter Stearns, American Cool, p. 186

162. Cas Wouters, “Etiquette Books and Emotion Management”

163. Cas Wouters, “Etiquette Books and Emotion Management,” p. 300

164. Some of these cultural trends have been noted by individual American voices, too. For example, Andy Rooney recently said on CBS: “I don’t know why we’re so evasive. People are not honest about what they say. Part of it passes for good manners, and part of it is wanting to be liked by not being negative about things. Negative does not have a good reputation as compared with affirmative.” (Quoted in Warren St. John, “Defending the Right Not to Have a Nice Day,” New York Times, 5/25/2003, Style Desk: Section 9, Page 1.)

165. Wouters defines national styles of emotion management theoreticizing that in each country the specific processes of social integration between rising and falling social strata formed the national style of emotion management. (Cas Wouters, “Etiquette Books and Emotion Management.”)

166. John Whyte, American Words and Ways Especially for German Americans (New York, 1943), p. 139

167. Dean Peabody, National Characteristics (London, 1985)

168. Julian Leff, “The Cross-Cultural Study of Emotions” Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 1 (4) (1977): 317–350, p. 323; Anthony Marsella, “Depressive Experience and Disorder across Cultures” Handbook of Cross-Cultural Psychopathology, eds. Harry Triandis and Juris Draguns, vol. 6 (London, 1980): 237–289, p. 242; Robert Levy, “Emotion, Knowing and Culture” Culture Theory: Essays on Mind, Self and Emotion, eds. Richard Shweder and Robert LeVine (Cambridge, 1984): 214–237, p. 230

169. Paul Heelas, “Emotion Talk across Cultures” The Emotions: Social, Cultural and Biological Dimensions, eds. Rom Harré and Gerrod Parrott (London, 1996): 171–199, p. 178

170. See, for example, Morton Beiser, “A Study of Depression among Traditional Africans, Urban North Americans and South East Asian Refugees,” Culture and Depression: Studies in the Anthropology and Cross-Cultural Psychiatry of Affect and Disorder, eds. Arthur Kleinman and Byron Good (Berkeley, 1985): 272–298

171. Anthony Marsella, “Depressive Experience and Disorder across Cultures,” p. 238

172. Catherine Lutz, “Depression and the Translation of Emotional Worlds”

173. Catherine Lutz, “Depression and the Translation of Emotional Worlds,” p. 70

174. Mike Martin, “Depression and Moral Health: A Response to the Commentary,” Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychopathology 6 (4) (1999): 295–298, p. 297

175. Anthony Marsella, “Depressive Experience and Disorder across Cultures”

176. Philip Cushman, Constructing the Self, Constructing America: A Cultural History of Psychotherapy (Reading, MA, 1995)

177. Peter Stearns, American Cool, p. 251

178. National Public Radio, “Calculating the Costs of Mental Health Care,” Morning Edition, 08/26/2004

179. Warren St. John, “Defending the Right Not to Have a Nice Day”

180. Philip Broughton, “Psychologists Pessimistic about Effects of Optimism Attack ‘Tyranny of the Positive Attitude’,” The Daily Telegraph, 8/16/2000

181. Christopher Smithwick, “Tyranny of the Good,” Bowdoin Orient 21, 4/12/2002

182. Warren St. John, “Defending the Right Not to Have a Nice Day”

183. Peter Kramer, “I’m in Favor of Sadness,” Self, June 2002, p. 88

184. Ellen Willis, Don’t Think, Smile: Notes on a Decade of Denial (Boston, 1999)

185. In a public talk delivered at New York University’s Forum Ambiguities or Intervention: Iraq and Beyond, on 11/22/2002, Todd Gitlin criticized the use of cheerfulness in political propaganda.

186. Erica Goode, “Seeing Pessimism’s Place in a Smiley-Faced World,” The New York Times: Health and Fitness, 8/15/2000

187. Warren St. John, “Defending the Right Not to Have a Nice Day”