BELIEFS ABOUT THE SPREAD OF EMOTIONS: RELATIONSHIPS TO REPORTED AND OBSERVABLE EMOTIONAL BEHAVIOR THROUGH INTERPERSONAL GOALS
Chentsova Dutton, Yulia
Beliefs about emotions play an important role in guiding emotional behavior. Though emotions are interpersonal phenomena, we know little about individuals’ beliefs about the consequences of their emotions for others. My dissertation research examines the role of a novel construct—beliefs about the spread of emotions—in guiding emotional behavior, and the influence of self-focused vs. other-focused interpersonal motivations in explaining these relationships. This research was conducted in the U.S. and South Korea because past research has shown other-focused interpersonal motives tend to be more salient in this context than in the U.S. Studies 1-2 examined the nature of beliefs about the spread of emotions and their relationships to self-reported emotional behaviors. In both the U.S. and South Korea, the more individuals believed their happiness and sadness spread, the more they reported expressing their positive and negative emotions. Interpersonal motivations to strengthen relationships and receive support explained these relationships. Study 3 experimentally manipulated beliefs about the spread of emotions in the U.S. and South Korea. In a simulated social interaction between close friends, I assessed the effects of the manipulation on participants’ efforts to regulate emotions, actual emotional behavior, and expected quality of social support. I also examined the mediating and moderating roles of interpersonal motives in explaining these relationships. Condition did not significantly influence positive emotional behavior, but in both the U.S. and Korea, people led to believe their emotions spread expressed less anger when talking about their negative experiences. This effect was moderated by interpersonal motives. For participants led to believe emotions spread, other-focused motives were associated with increased nonverbal anger expressivity among Americans but decreased expressivity among Koreans. Furthermore, in both the U.S. and Korea, participants led to believe emotions spread expected to receive higher quality support than participants in other conditions. These results suggest that beliefs about the spread of one’s emotions to others predict reported and actual emotional behavior, but in different ways. These findings further suggest that individuals may view the spread of their emotions to others as a useful means of achieving interpersonal goals.
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