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A central function of many emotions is to influence other people. Indeed, people often engage in emotion regulation precisely to modify or extend the interpersonal regulatory functions that emotions already serve. This chapter focuses on these regulatory functions, and on how emotions acquire them in the first place. According to social functional theories, emotions play a role in achieving interpersonal goals relating to affiliation, interpersonal distance, dominance, or appeasement. Supporting this account, many socially oriented emotions are directly attuned to their actual and anticipated interpersonal consequences. Emotions not only communicate appraisals and relational orientations, but also provide more direct incentives and disincentives that motivate other people’s responses or prompt their cessation. Emotion components such as facial and bodily movements serve social functions too, either by communicating information, or by cuing adjustments in attention and action more directly. Although natural selection contributes to the development of many of these functions, emotions only consolidate into integrated strategies of social influence over the course of socialisation and enculturation.
Emotions not only affect other people individually but also also help to form and consolidate wider social alliances or divisions. This chapter focuses on emotion’s effects and functions in group life and on how interpersonal processes might scale up to produce collective outcomes. Ingroup members’ emotions signal their shared or distinct social identities and communicate relevant group norms, as well as aligning intragroup relations more directly. Mutual entrainment of movements may be facilitated by temporally structured interaction rituals, and joint participation in collective action can reinforce a sense of efficacy and shared purpose. Emotions not only align relations within groups but also between them. Like interpersonally targeted emotions, intergroup emotions are often attuned to actual or anticipated responses from their targets and respond directly to emotional feedback from the outgroups at which they are directed. Many theorists explain these social-functional outcomes by reference to single-minded processes of self-categorization and group-based appraisal, paying relatively less attention to the relation-aligning consequences of the collective enactment of identities. However, group emotions make most sense when grounded and contextualised in processes of group mobilization and intergroup exchange.
Emotional influence not only depends on a person’s group membership, but also on their particular position within the group’s structured interpersonal relations. When the group is part of a wider organisation, additional regulatory regimes may constrain or afford particular forms of emotional conduct. This chapter focuses on how work roles shape emotion communication and regulation. Team leaders’ emotions can set the emotional tone of work-groups, encouraging solidarity and common purpose. In the service sector, clients and customers impose different kinds of emotional demand on employees. Workers whose jobs involve interacting with consumers present the company’s outward face, and are encouraged to regulate their emotional presentations accordingly (emotional labour). Caring professionals need to manage the potential personal costs of empathising with clients undergoing potentially devastating life changes. In all of these cases, employees’ emotions influence and are influenced by the people they deal with in their working lives.
How do faces convey emotional information? Some psychologists believe that private emotions automatically surface as facial expressions. Others argue that the main purpose of facial activity is to communicate social motives and influence other people’s behaviour. This chapter evaluates these competing accounts using evidence from judgement and production studies. Judgement studies ask participants to decide what emotion is being expressed in photos or videos of facial expressions. Production studies assess facial activity in emotional situations more directly. Findings obtained using these two methods do not always converge but neither kind of study provides direct support for universal or consistent emotion-expression connections. A range of different factors seems to influence facial activity, only some of which relate to emotion. However, some forms of emotional influence clearly do depend on facial communication and calibration.
This chapter discusses how and why emotions affect other people’s actions, appraisals and emotions. One popular explanation of interpersonal influence is primitive emotional contagion. According to this account, people arrive at similar emotional states because they copy one another’s gestures and expressions (mimicry). The feelings and sensations produced by these gestures and expressions then produce convergent emotional experiences (interoceptive feedback). However, mimicry effects are too selective and feedback effects too weak to make this process work consistently. An alternative process is social appraisal, which involves calibrating emotional orientations to objects or events in the shared environment. Most studies of social appraisal present participants with verbal or facial information about someone else’s emotion and assess their inferences about that information. However, relation alignment may also operate at a more implicit level when people adjust to each other’s developing object-directed signals and movements. Similar processes may also produce divergent or conflicting emotional orientations when two people approach the same event from different angles or interpret its consequences in different ways.
Are emotions simply private experiences concealed inside individual minds and bodies? Psychologists often search for their distinguishing characteristics in these internal locations. But focusing on physiological responses and cognitive appraisals distorts our understanding of emotion’s relations to the contexts in which it occurs. In fact, emotion is a form of relational activity. Unfolding transactions between people, objects, and events give structure to our emotional orientations to what is happening. And these orientations in turn influence other people and their own reciprocal orientations. Some social emotions, such as anger and embarrassment, directly target other people’s responses as ways of dealing with current concerns. Other emotions are oriented at non-social objects but still serve social functions by affecting other people’s orientations to those objects. Although emotions are often experienced privately, this is only possible because we have learnt how they work in more public arenas.
This chapter focuses on how emotions are expressed, enacted and communicated in language. Although words such as “anger,” “joy,” and “fear” sound like names for precisely defined psychological objects, their exact descriptive meaning is hard to pin down. Disagreements about which words count as emotion names are common both within and across societies, with language encoding emotional events in different ways depending on circumstances. Emotion words also serve a range of pragmatic and performative functions in conversations and arguments. They can convey blame or assign credit, and establish, maintain or break social connections as well as merely describe personal experience. No all-purpose representational system seems capable of explaining this diversity. Indeed, the main purpose of emotional language may be to facilitate various forms of social influence rather than merely to codify emotional distinctions relating to personal experience.
This concluding chapter summarises ideas and evidence presented earlier in the book and sets out the general principles of the relation-alignment approach to emotional influence. I develop the argument that emotions are embodied orientations to objects, events or people that converge or conflict with other people’s orientations, rather than internal mental states that only make indirect contact with the social world. Their effects and functions depend crucially on the dynamic interpersonal, intergroup, organisational and societal systems within which they operate. Emotion’s range of social influence extends cumulatively over the course of socialisation, as caregivers deliver culturally informed responses to children’s increasingly articulated orientations. The capacity to use words and faces in symbolically mediated pragmatic communications ultimately permits conventionalised forms of social influence that are less constrained by immediately pressing situational concerns, facilitating more strategic forms of interpersonal regulation. However, even fully socialised adults remain susceptible to less explicit forms of emotional influence, and do not necessarily register the meaning of the emotional operations shaping their own dynamic responses. Thus, our emotions affect other people in a variety of ways, none of which depend directly on the mediated transmission of private meanings. People learn to keep their emotional inclinations to themselves only after becoming sensitive to their prior social effects.
People often regulate their emotions when attempting to influence other people. For example, I may try to maintain calm about what is happening to avoid making you worried, or alternatively work up my anger or disappointment to make you worry more. In both these cases, regulation of my emotion serves to regulate your emotions. This chapter focuses on both intrapersonal and interpersonal emotion regulation and their intended and actual consequences. When two people try to regulate each other’s emotions at the same time, their emotions may converge or diverge, producing increasingly compatible orientations or escalating clashes of perspective. In some case of mutual regulation, interactants may successfully achieve regulatory effects that neither individual could have achieved separately.
Do emotions happen inside separate hearts and minds, or do they operate across the spaces between individuals? This book focuses on how emotions affect other people by changing their orientation to what happens in the social world. It provides the first sustained attempt to bring together literature on emotion's social effects in dyads and groups, and on how people regulate their emotions in order to exploit these effects in their home and work lives. The chapters present state-of-the-art reviews of topics such as emotion contagion, social appraisal and emotional labour. The book then develops an innovative and integrative approach to the social psychology of emotion based on the idea of relation alignment. The implications not only stretch beyond face-to-face interactions into the wider interpersonal, institutional and cultural environment, but also penetrate the supposed depths of personal experience, making us rethink some of our strongly held presuppositions about how emotions work.
Interpersonally presented emotions help to calibrate people’s orientations to things happening in the shared environment. For example, social referencing involves one person seeking clarification of the appropriate appraisal of an object, event, or person, and another person responding with an emotional orientation that disambiguates things. However, this paradigmatic case represents only one of the possible ways in which emotions affect other people’s physical or mental attitudes. In other cases, emotion-related responses affect other people’s orientations independent of their explicit informational content. Further, emotional knowledge may be co-constructed dynamically rather than transmitted unidirectionally from one person to another. In these cases, affective social learning need not involve changes in the perceived meaning of emotional objects, but rather adjustments in interactants’ orientations to what is happening. This chapter suggests ways of extending and going beyond existing methodological and theoretical approaches to emotional influence and identifies some of the blindspots of previous research.
While the burden of caring for people living with dementia has been well documented, considerably less is known about how carers transition into post-care life. This study aimed to understand the experiences of primary family care-givers of people with dementia after the person with dementia has died. A specific focus of the research was understanding the barriers to transitioning into a positive post-care life, and facilitators that help sustain carers as they move forward after their care journey has ended. A qualitative exploratory, descriptive study was undertaken with nine primary carers for a family member who died with dementia (five spouses and four adult children). Semi-structured face-to-face or telephone interviews were conducted with carers between July and August 2016. Interview transcripts were analysed using a thematic approach. A number of factors that can act as barriers or facilitators to transition for carers were identified. Contextualising loss, restructuring identity, psychological health issues and the influence of social attitudes seemed to have a strong influence on carer outcomes. The findings highlight the need for further systematic social and informational support for carers to moderate post-care trajectories and improve carer transition.
This research identified a gap in understanding the lived experience of long-term disaster resilience (LTDR). Increasing disasters could influence more people. Therefore, understanding LTDR becomes imperative. Little research documents men and women’s reflections following disasters. Current research highlights survivors’ mental health, particularly clinical diagnoses like PTSD. Research remains limited on the social impacts long after disasters.
Research aimed to identify a gendered perspective of the lived experience about what contributes to LTDR three years after Ash Wednesday in 1983, the Victorian floods in 1993 and 2010-11, and the 2009 Black Saturday fires.
A comprehensive, systematized search was conducted of peer-reviewed, grey, and secondary literature for a narrative review and thematic analysis.
106 references were identified. After removing duplicates and papers not fitting the inclusion criteria, two papers met the criteria. However, two borderline papers were included due to the closeness of the timeframe and brevity of research available.
Most research is related to the immediate aftermath or short-term resilience. Papers provided no specific attributes to enhance the lived experience of LTDR as it related to gender. However, factors that could enhance the lived experience of LTDR were drawn from six themes in sociological studies. Presumptive interpretations were made about what factors may provide insight into the social and contextual issues of LTDR. The literature dearth identified the need for long-term disaster resilience research. The most striking conclusion drawn from themes tells how people perceived the way a disaster and the ensuing period affected their personal relationships and circumstances. Overall, positive experiences strengthened their resilience while negative experiences hindered their resilience. While the review resulted in a disappointing outcome, the dearth of LTDR research lacked any reference to gender but confirmed research opportunities for innovative research that could influence policy and practice.