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)
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A Behavioral Scientist Notable Book of the Year One of KCRW’s Best Reads of the Year A Next Big Idea Club Top 21 Psychology Book of the Year One of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of the Year


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Between Us

How Cultures Create Emotions

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.

Read the excerpt on Behavioral Scientist

Behavioral Scientist featured BETWEEN US on their list of Notable Books of 2022

Between Us is included in KCRW's Best Reads of 2022, Next Big Idea Club's Top 21 Psychology Books of 2022, and Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2022. Between Us was nominated for Habit Weekly's Best Book of the Year, was longlisted for the Non-Obvious Book Awards. A highlight from the book reached the top 10 in Adam Grant's 2023 list.

Translations of Between Us

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De Emoties Tussen Ons

Hoe Cultuur Onze Emoties Bepaalt
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Świat emocji

Jak tworzyć relacje w wielokulturowym społeczeństwie
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Praise for Between Us

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

A fascinating read on the psychology of cultural differences in communication.”

Adam Grant, psychologist and author of Originals, Think Again, Hidden Potential

In this impressive debut, a social psychologist analyzes academic studies and stories from around the world to make a case for how different cultures place value on the emotions that shape our individual and collective social relationships.”

The New York Times

I absolutely loved Batja’s book and I think her work is really important. The more we are able to connect with our fellow humans instead of judging them, the happier and more harmonious the world is going to be.”

Rangan Chatterjee, MD, host of Feel Better Live More and author of Happy Mind Happy Life

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

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

Ultimately, Mesquita’s book presents a powerful and stirring argument for viewing emotions and emotional episodes holistically. It’s a call to action that will make our schools, businesses, and justice systems more equitable. Empathy, that much-lauded concept, is not enough. Mesquita argues that we must move past empathy, which entails imagining that we can project our own experiences onto someone else, and instead learn to compassionately ask questions and understand what a person’s emotional response means to them based on their cultural background.”


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

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

An astute psychological study of emotions around the world.”


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)