The emotional climate of nations and their culture of peace

Document Type



Societies seem to have emotional climates that affect how people feel and act in public situations. Unlike the emotions experienced in an individual's personal life, these modal feelings reflect a collective response to the socio-economic-political situation of the society and influence how most people behave toward one another and their government. A government may foster a climate of fear to ensure social control, or it may encourage the formation of heterogeneous social groups to facilitate a climate of trust between people from different groups. On one hand, emotional climates may be viewed as reflecting the relative peacefulness or violence of a society. Thus, an assessment of emotional climate may provide a subjective index of human security to complement objective measures of democracy, human rights, equality, and other factors that we presume are beneficial to human welfare. On the other hand, we may view emotional climates as influences that act to further or to impede the development of the culture of peace advocated by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Thus, their assessment may have predictive power, and measuring a society's emotional climate may help us to create desirable policy. In this article we show that it is possible to measure some important aspects of the emotional climates of three nations that have different degrees of a culture of peace: Norway, the United States, and India. We show that estimates of the collective emotions that constitute climate can be distinguished from reports of personal emotions in that the former are more influenced by nation and the latter by social class. It is the subjective experience of national emotional climate, rather than personal emotional experience, that appears most related to objective indices for the culture of peace in the different nations. © 2007 The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.

Publication Title

Journal of Social Issues

Publication Date






First Page


Last Page







national socialism & culture, peacebuilding, social control, culture, political sociology, emotional environment, political science research