The conceptualization of despair in Basque, Spanish, and English

Authors : Alonso-Arbiol, C. Soriano & F. J. R. van de Vijver

Abstract :

We examined possible dissimilarities in the English, Basque and Spanish prototypical terms for despair. The GRID instrument was used with samples from four geographical regions and five cultural groups: Spanish speakers from Chile, Spanish speakers from Southern Spain, Spanish speakers from Northern Spain, Basque speakers from Northern Spain, and English speakers from the USA. Agreement of the different versions was examined using multidimensional scaling procedures with the overall scores and with the profiles of several components (appraisal, feelings, physiological features, action tendencies, and expressions). Non-equivalence of despair terms across languages and cultural groups was observed both at a general and component level. The three words used in different geographical and/or linguistic contexts do not seem to refer to a unitary concept, but rather to two different concepts, where the Spanish ‘desesperación’ would convey a specific arousal-active pattern.

Keywords : cross-cultural differences construct equivalence emotion terms Spanish Basque cultural diffusion multidimensional scaling