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This article catalogs social processes contributing to construction of emotions across three time-scales, covering: natural selection; ontogenesis; and moment-by-moment transactions. During human evolution, genetic and cultural influences operate interdependently, not as separate forces working against each other. Further, leaving infants' environment-open serves adaptive purposes. During ontogenesis, cultural socialization affects emotion development in various ways, not all of which depend on internalization of cultural meanings as emphasized in some earlier social constructionist accounts. Construction also operates over the moment-by-moment time-scale of real-time interpersonal interactions, as emotions adjust to the constraints and affordances of immediate cultural environments. Claims that emotions are constructed, and that social processes contribute to their construction, are no longer contestable. Now the project is to specify how these processes operate and what materials they use. © 2012 The Author(s).

Original publication




Journal article


Emotion Review

Publication Date





291 - 298