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Disentangling Emotions during the Coronavirus Outbreak in Spain: Inner Emotions, Descriptive Feeling Rules and Socioemotional Conventions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 March 2022

Amparo Caballero
Affiliation:
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain)
Sergio Villar*
Affiliation:
Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (Spain)
Itziar Fernández
Affiliation:
Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (Spain)
Verónica Sevillano
Affiliation:
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain)
Pablo Gavilán
Affiliation:
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain)
Pilar Carrera
Affiliation:
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain)
*
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Sergio Villar. Universidad Internacional de La Rioja, Departamento de Psicología de la Educación y Psicobiología. 26006 Logroño (Spain). E-mail: sergio.villarfer@gmail.com, sergio.villar@unir.net

Abstract

For constructionism, language is the link among different levels of analysis of emotional events, from individual to interpersonal and macrosocial. The interaction among these emotional levels allows us to construe an emotional episode and label it with an emotion word, coordinate with the emotions perceived in others, and represent events as a society. Across two studies, we found similarities and differences among inner emotions experienced (individual level), emotions perceived in others (descriptive feeling rules, interpersonal level) and emotions shared on the internet (socioemotional conventions, macrosocial level), with all these emotional targets focused on the COVID–19 outbreak. The results indicate a similarity between the emotional meaning of COVID–19 in society and the descriptive feeling rules, whereas the reported inner emotions were clearly distinct: Joy was irrelevant at the interpersonal and macrosocial levels but clearly important at the individual level. A mismatch also appeared for fear and hope. While fear was the most predominant emotion at the interpersonal and macrosocial levels during most of the phases, it was moderately predominant at the individual level. Hope followed the opposite pattern, being the most relevant emotion at the individual level but less relevant at the interpersonal and macrosocial levels. Each level might have different consequences: Mixed emotions at the individual level might promote resilience; fear perceived in other people might motivate protective behaviors; and sadness socially shared during Christmas might generate greater empathy. These results support the complexity of emotional concepts and the suitability of exploring them at different levels of analysis.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos de Madrid 2022

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Footnotes

Acknowledgement: We wish to thank Víctor García Carrera for designing the searching program employed in Study 2.

Funding Statement: This research was funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation in Spain (PC & AC, grant number PGC2018–093821–B–I00, FEDER, MICINN).

Conflicts of Interest: None.

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