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The Social Effects of Emotions Are Functionally Equivalent across Expressive Modalities
Abstract: Emotions play a crucial role in regulating social life. Interpersonal interactions are the most commonly reported sources of emotions, and these emotions in turn influence social behavior via intrapersonal as well as interpersonal processes. Traditionally, the dominant research focus has been on the intra-individual consequences of emotional experience for cognition and behavior. In this talk I advocate a more social approach to emotion, which views emotion as occurring between rather than just within individuals. I present a theoretical framework for studying the interpersonal effects of emotions, which addresses the impact of one person's emotional expressions on others' emotions, cognitions, attitudes, motivations, and behaviors: Emotions as Social Information (EASI) theory. EASI theory posits that emotional expressions exert social influence on observers via affective as well as inferential processes. The social consequences of emotional expressions depend on the relative strength of these processes, which is in turn determined by observers' information processing motivation and ability and by social-contextual factors that shape the perceived appropriateness of the emotional displays. EASI theory further postulates that the social effects of emotional expressions emitted through different channels (face, voice, posture, words, symbols) are similar in direction (though not necessarily magnitude). I provide theoretical arguments and empirical support for this “functional equivalence hypothesis” and discuss some of its theoretical, practical, and methodological implications.

Sep 22, 2021 02:00 PM in Amsterdam

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