Batja Mesquita

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Batja Gomes de Mesquita
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
CitizenshipNetherlands, United States
Alma materUniversity of Amsterdam, University of Michigan
Known forTheory of socio-cultural construction of emotions
SpouseBenny Carlé
Scientific career
Fieldssocial psychology, cultural psychology, affective sciences
Thesis (Ph.D. 1993)
Doctoral advisorNico H. Frijda

Batja Mesquita is a Dutch-born social psychologist, a cultural psychologist and an affective scientist. She is a professor of psychology at the University of Leuven, Belgium, where she studies the role of culture in emotions, and of emotions in culture and society. She is director of the Center for Social and Cultural Psychology in Leuven.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Mesquita was born in Amsterdam in 1960 to Jewish Dutch parents who had survived the World War II in hiding.[2] Her father, Albert Gomes de Mesquita was a class mate of Anne Frank.[3] Her mother, Lien de Jong, was orphaned in the war.[4] Both parents were educated, and the family lived a comfortable middle-class life. Mesquita has two younger brothers.

Mesquita obtained a bachelor's degree in psychology and a bachelor's degree in philosophy at the University of Amsterdam. She obtained a master's degree in experimental psychology from the same university, focusing her master thesis on gender differences in emotions. During her Ph.D. in psychology, she developed her initial insights in the role of culture for emotions. Mesquita spent her postdoc years at the University of Michigan,[5] where she was part of the ‘Culture and Cognition group’.[6] This group combined psychological perspectives with those of neighboring disciplines as anthropology and sociology to learn how individual psychological processes are shaped through socio-cultural participation.


Interested by the contrast between the ethnographic findings of marked cultural differences in emotions[7] and psychological research that yielded universality,[8] Mesquita set out to understand the role of culture in emotions. In an extensive literature review that appeared in Psychological Bulletin,[9] she and Nico H. Frijda arrived at a synthesis of the research findings from different disciplines, which challenged the notion of universal basic emotions. They concluded that, while some aspects of emotions may be universal, other aspects are cross-culturally different.[9] In later work, Mesquita found that cultural differences in emotions are systematic and meaningful, and can be understood from cultural differences in self and relationship models (e.g., Mesquita, 2003[10]). The finding of systematic and meaningful cultural differences led Mesquita to formulate a socio-cultural theory of emotions. According to this theory, emotions emerge from interpersonal interactions that are bound and guided by cultural meanings and practices.[11] Her current research focuses on unveiling the interpersonal processes that give rise to cross-culturally different emotions.[12] In another line of research, Mesquita and her colleagues study the consequences of cultural differences in emotions for the multicultural society. They have yielded evidence for emotional acculturation: Emotions change as a result of contact with another culture. The work on acculturation shows the role of culture in producing and reproducing emotions, even beyond their initial socialization.[13] It has also led to a cultural psychological theory of acculturation, in which ‘deep’ psychological processes, such as emotions, change upon contact with another culture.[14] Mesquita’s research interests include the consequences of emotional misfit of immigrant minorities for their belonging to and inclusion in majority culture. The recently published book, Between Us, highlights precisely this theory. It combines a diversity of psychological research and intimate personal stories from different cultures.[15] Notwithstanding, Between Us was nominated for The Next Big Idea. It was also part of the Behavioral Scientist's Summer Book List 2022 and reviewed by Science and The New Yorker.[16]

In 2020, Batja received an Advanced Grant, funded by the European Research Council under the H2020 programme, for the project called EmotionAcculturation.[17] The Advanced Grants support Principal Investigators that have established excellent research achievements.[18] The project is responsible for investigating how emotions, as crucial interaction processes, reflect on immigrant minorities’ social inclusion and wellbeing.

Personal life[edit]

Mesquita married Michael Zajonc in 1994, they have two children together, Oliver and Zoë. She has been married to Benny Carlé since 2012.

Other positions and activities[edit]



  • Flanagan, O., LeDoux, Bingle, B., Haybron, D., Mesquita, B., Moody-Adams, M., J., Ren, S., Sun, A.X., Wilson, Y.Y. (in press). The happiness agenda: Why happiness is not the answer. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Mesquita, B. (2022). Between Us: How Cultures Create Emotions. NY: Norton. ISBN 9781324002444
  • Uskul, A., Gobel, M., Benet-Martinez, V., & Mesquita, B. (Eds.) (2018) Special Issue on Europe’s culture(s): Negotiating cultural meanings, values, and identities in the European context. Journal of Cross-cultural Psychology, 49(6).
  • Mesquita, B, & Barrett, L.F. (Eds.) (2017). Emotion. Current Opinion in Psychology, 17, 1-194.
  • Hermans, D., Rimé, B., & Mesquita, B. (Eds.) (2013). Changing emotions. London, UK: Psychology Press.
  • Mesquita, B., Barrett, L. F., & Smith, E. R. (Eds.) (2010). The Mind in Context. New York: Guilford. ISBN 9781606235539
  • Kuppens, P., Stouten, J., & Mesquita, B. (Guest Editors) (2009). Special Issue on individual differences in emotion components and dynamics. Cognition and Emotion, 23.


  1. ^ "Leuven Culture and Emotion Lab".
  2. ^ "Majoor FAMILY". Retrieved 2018-03-07.
  3. ^ "Albert gomes de mesquita, compañero de escuela de ana frank, visitará nuestro país del 4 al 11 de mayo | Centro Ana Frank Argentina". Archived from the original on 2018-08-25. Retrieved 2018-03-07.
  4. ^ The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es |
  5. ^ a b "Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University: Batja Mesquira".
  6. ^ "Culture and Cognition: University of Michigan". Retrieved 2018-03-07.
  7. ^ Catherine., Lutz (1988-10-15). Unnatural emotions : everyday sentiments on a Micronesian Atoll & their challenge to western theory. Chicago. ISBN 9780226497228. OCLC 17484529.
  8. ^ Paul, Ekman (1970). "Universal Facial Expressions of Emotions" (PDF). California Mental Health Digest. 8: 151–158. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-09-03. Retrieved 2018-03-07.
  9. ^ a b Mesquita, Batja; Frijda, Nico H. (1992). "Cultural variations in emotions: A review". Psychological Bulletin. 112 (2): 179–204. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.112.2.179. PMID 1454891.
  10. ^ Mesquita, B. (2003). Emotions as dynamic cultural phenomena. In R. Davidson, H. Goldsmith, & K. R. Scherer (Eds.), The handbook of the affective sciences (pp. 871-890). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  11. ^ Mesquita, Batja; Boiger, Michael (Fall 2014). "Emotions in Context: A Sociodynamic Model of Emotions". Emotion Review. 6 (4): 298–302. doi:10.1177/1754073914534480. S2CID 145265798.
  12. ^ Mesquita, Batja; Boiger, Michael; Leersnyder, Jozefien De (2016). "The cultural construction of emotions". Current Opinion in Psychology. 8: 31–36. CiteSeerX doi:10.1016/j.copsyc.2015.09.015. PMID 29506799.
  13. ^ De Leersnyder, Jozefien; Mesquita, Batja; Kim, Heejung S. (April 2011). "Where do my emotions belong? A study of immigrants' emotional acculturation". Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin. 37 (4): 451–463. doi:10.1177/0146167211399103. ISSN 1552-7433. PMID 21357754. S2CID 18590014.
  14. ^ Jozefien, De Leersnyder; Mesquita, Batja; Kim, Heejung (2013). "Emotional acculturation". In Hermans, Dirk; Mesquita, Batja (eds.). Changing emotions. New York: Psychology Press. pp. 127–133.
  15. ^ "Between Us".
  16. ^ "News about Between Us".
  17. ^ "EmotionAcculturation".
  18. ^ "ERC Advanced Grants".
  19. ^ a b c d e f "Prof. Batja Gomes de Mesquita". AcademiaNet.
  20. ^ "Batja Mesquita seizes the 2022 Outstanding Achievement Award for Advancing Cultural Psychology".
  21. ^ "The Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium".
  22. ^ "Past Fellows, Research Affiliates, and Visiting Scholars | Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences". Archived from the original on 2018-06-11. Retrieved 2018-03-06.
  23. ^ "Leden | Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van België voor Wetenschappen en Kunsten". (in Dutch). Retrieved 2018-03-06.
  24. ^ "APA Fellows". Retrieved 2018-03-06.
  25. ^ "Fellowship | SPSP". Retrieved 2018-03-06.
  26. ^ "Association for Psychological Science: APS Fellows". Archived from the original on 2020-08-13. Retrieved 2018-03-06.

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