In an age of globalization, emotional understanding is the central problem of human interaction. Here, we show that historical heterogeneity or the extent to which a country’s present-day population descends from numerous (vs. few) source countries, predicts cultural variation in norms for emotional expressivity. Reanalysis of cultural display rules from 32 countries reveals that historical heterogeneity is associated with norms favoring greater emotional expressivity. In addition, the results of a study of nine countries show that the belief that smiles signal social bonding motives vs. the negotiation of status in a social hierarchy is predicted by historical heterogeneity as well.
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