Featured in Behavioral Scientist’s Summer Book List 2022
A pioneer of cultural psychology argues that emotions are not innate, but made as we live our lives together.
“How are you feeling today?” We may think of emotions as universal responses, felt inside, but in Between Us, acclaimed psychologist Batja Mesquita asks us to reconsider them through the lens of what they do in our relationships, both one-on-one and within larger social networks. From an outside-in perspective, readers will understand why pride in a Dutch context does not translate well to the same emotion in North Carolina, or why one’s anger at a boss does not mean the same as your anger at a partner in a close relationship. By looking outward at relationships at work, school, and home, we can better judge how our emotions will be understood, how they might change a situation, and how they change us.
Brilliantly synthesizing original psychological studies and stories from peoples across time and geography, Between Us skillfully argues that acknowledging differences in emotions allows us to find common ground, humanizing and humbling us all for the better.
About the Author
Batja Mesquita is a social psychologist, an affective scientist, and a pioneer of cultural psychology. She is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Leuven, Belgium, where she studies the role of culture in emotions, and of emotions in culture and society. Mesquita spent her postdoctoral years at the University of Michigan, where she was part of the “culture and cognition group” that played a key role in the start of cultural psychology. She is director of the Center for Social and Cultural Psychology in Leuven.
Batja Mesquita’s work on culture and emotion is highly original and highly important and has been influential in shaping the science of emotion. It’s no surprise that Between Us is a groundbreaking book.
— Carol Dweck, author of Mindset
If you want to understand how the patterns of your emotional life emerge from the sociocultural context of your life, there is no better book to read than Between Us. It’s a profound book. Yet, at its core, it is also a powerful humility, a humility that is an actual methodology for understanding and navigating cultural differences in emotion. It should be read by everyone from kindergarten teachers to corporate CEOs. And blessedly, it’s a great read—accessible, delightful, and inspiring.
— Claude Steele, author of Whistling Vivaldi
Emotions are cultural tools for surviving, thriving in, and even shaping the world we live in. Between Us is a vibrant tour de force from the preeminent scholar on cultural variation in emotions. Prepare to be astounded.
— Lisa Feldman Barrett, author of How Emotions Are Made and Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain
Stemming from over three decades of scientific study and immigrant experiences, Between Us presents engaging stories and evidence-based insights that both satisfy and fascinate. You’ll come away understanding how and why emotion scientists got answers to the culture question so wrong for so long, as well as how Batja Mesquita and others ventured to get it right. Between Us is a must-read.
— Barbara L. Fredrickson, author of Positivity and Love 2.0
Between Us takes you on a grand tour of the world and the mind, led by one of the world’s leading experts on emotion and culture. The journey is a joy, full of puzzles, insights, and empathy, and by the end you'll understand yourself, your culture, and our common yet variable humanity better.
— Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind and coauthor of The Coddling of the American Mind
In Between Us, acclaimed affective scientist Batja Mesquita compellingly shows that understanding people across cultural and racial divides requires immersing yourself in their diverse emotional realities. The book is a must-read for everyone working towards justice and inclusion -- from law enforcement to schools to the workplace.
— Jennifer Eberhardt, Morris M. Doyle Centennial Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, author of Biased
The bounty of case studies captivates and makes a strong argument that social conditions have the power to dictate how one expresses and experiences emotions. The result is a bracing and bold appraisal of how feelings develop. — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
An astute psychological study of emotions around the world. — Kirkus