Read the attached article file:///home/chronos/u-c3b1a7a29567815d431d06b5b38c2aedb2e5b57e/MyFiles/Downloads/Social%20Nature%20of%20Emotions%20(1).pdf and respond to the following:
The authors of the article discuss a variety of ways that emotions are social. Analyze their arguments in your response.
Briefly, explain in your own words at least two ways that emotions are affected by the social environment.
Connect the ideas to the textbook.  Identify one theory from the text that can explain an idea in the article, making sure to explain the connection between the two.
Use the ideas from the text and article to offer two suggestions for ways that people can alter their social environment to make their emotional experience more positive. Make sure to explain your position.EDITORIAL
published: 14 June 2016
doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00896
Editorial: The Social Nature of
Gerben A. van Kleef 1*, Arik Cheshin 2 , Agneta H. Fischer 1 and Iris K. Schneider 3
Department of Social Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2 Department of Human Services,
University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel, 3 Department of Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Keywords: emotion, emotional expression, emotion processing, group processes, culture, social interaction,
affective science
The Editorial on the Research Topic
The Social Nature of Emotions
Edited and reviewed by:
Beatrice De Gelder,
Maastricht University, Netherlands
Gerben A. van Kleef
Specialty section:
This article was submitted to
Emotion Science,
a section of the journal
Frontiers in Psychology
Received: 19 April 2016
Accepted: 31 May 2016
Published: 14 June 2016
van Kleef GA, Cheshin A, Fischer AH
and Schneider IK (2016) Editorial: The
Social Nature of Emotions.
Front. Psychol. 7:896.
doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00896
Frontiers in Psychology |
Emotions are a defining aspect of the human condition. They pervade our social and professional
lives, influence our thinking and behavior, and profoundly shape our relationships and social
interactions. Traditionally, emotions have been conceptualized and studied primarily as individual
phenomena, with research focusing on cognitive and expressive components and on physiological
and neurological processes underlying emotional reactions. Over the last two decades, however,
an increasing scholarly awareness has emerged that emotions are inherently social—that is, they
tend to be elicited by other people, expressed toward other people, and regulated to influence other
people or to comply with social norms (Parkinson, 1996; Van Kleef, 2009; Fischer and Manstead,
in press). Despite this increasing awareness, the inclusion of the social dimension as a fundamental
element in emotion research is still in its infancy (Fischer and Van Kleef, 2010). To stimulate
further theorizing and research in this area, the current research topic brings together the latest
cutting-edge research on the social nature of emotions.
A growing literature supports the notion that emotions are tightly weaved into the fabric of
our social lives (for a comprehensive review, see Van Kleef, 2016). For instance, research has
demonstrated that social-contextual influences (e.g., norms, group membership) systematically
shape the experience, regulation, and expression of emotions (e.g., Doosje et al., 1998; Clark
et al., 2004; Fischer and Evers, 2011). Other studies have begun to uncover how social factors
such as power differentials and culture influence the recognition and interpretation of emotional
expressions (e.g., Elfenbein and Ambady, 2003; Mesquita and Markus, 2004; Stamkou et al., 2016).
Still other work has documented how (behavioral) responses to the emotional expressions of other
people are shaped by the social context, for instance in close relationships (e.g., Clark and Taraban,
1991; Guerrero et al., 2008), group settings (e.g., Barsade, 2002; Cheshin et al., 2011; Heerdink et al.,
2013), conflict and negotiation (Van Kleef et al., 2008; Adam et al., 2010), customer service (Staw
et al., 1994; Grandey et al., 2010), and leadership (Sy et al., 2005; Van Kleef et al., 2010b).
The social nature of emotions can be meaningfully analyzed at four different levels of analysis:
the individual, dyadic, group, and cultural level (Keltner and Haidt, 1999). Even though these levels
of analysis are not always mutually exclusive and some studies can be situated at multiple levels,
this typology affords a useful organizing principle for discussing the contributions to the current
research topic, which shed new light on the social nature of emotions at each of these levels.
At the individual level of analysis, critical research questions are how the social context influences
the experience, regulation, and expression of emotions. Even when analyzed at the individual level
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van Kleef et al.
The Social Nature of Emotions
effects of the (implicit) presence of an audience on smiling, Visser
et al. investigated the influence of the co-presence of a peer on
children’s expressions of happiness after winning a large first
prize or a small consolation prize in a competitive game. They
found that co-presence positively affected children’s happiness
only when receiving the first prize. Children who received the
first prize were perceived as happier when they were in the
presence of a peer who received the consolation prize than
when they were alone. Conversely, children who received the
consolation prize were rated as equally (un)happy when they
were alone or in the presence of a peer. This indicates that
children’s smiling, much like adults’ smiling, is influenced by the
social context.
of analysis, the deeply social nature of many emotions is apparent.
An example of such an emotion is gratitude, which tends
to arise in the context of social interactions with benevolent
others and has been found to benefit mental health (Emmons
and McCullough, 2003) as well as the quality of interpersonal
relationships (Algoe et al., 2008; Lambert et al., 2010). As part
of the current research topic, Fox et al. conducted one of the
first studies into the neural underpinnings of this deeply social
emotion. They found that ratings of gratitude correlated with
brain activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and the medial
prefrontal cortex, thus illuminating the neural networks that are
activated when individuals are confronted with the goodwill of
Whereas the experience of gratitude implies that one is
positively disposed toward another person, the experience of
negative emotions such as schadenfreude (when observing the
misfortune of another person) and gloating (when causing
another’s misfortune) imply a negative relationship. Even though
schadenfreude and gloating are both associated with the adversity
of others, Leach et al. argue that the two emotions can
have very different consequences. They demonstrate in two
studies that schadenfreude and gloating are distinct in terms
of their associated situational features, appraisals, experience,
and expression. These findings add nuance to the literature on
(malicious) pleasure and begin to uncover the differential social
roles that are played by schadenfreude and gloating.
Another inherently social emotion, nostalgia, involves a
fond recollection of people and events in the past. Growing
evidence indicates that nostalgia increases positive affect and
decreases negative affect (Sedikides et al., 2008). Drawing on
the social dimension of nostalgia, Cavanagh et al. argued and
demonstrated that the alleviating effect of nostalgia on feelings of
sadness depends on a person’s social connectedness. Specifically,
they found that memories of nostalgic vs. ordinary events
influenced recovery from a sad mood depending on attachment
insecurity, such that participants with low insecurity benefited
from nostalgia whereas people with high insecurity did not.
These findings indicate that the benefits of nostalgia depend on
confidence in the quality of one’s social relationships, further
attesting to the intrinsically social constitution of the emotion.
Whereas some emotions (such as the ones discussed above)
are almost necessarily social, other emotional responses may
be elicited by social as well as non-social events. For instance,
emotions such as pride or happiness may arise when non-social
goals are achieved (e.g., succeeding at an exam), but they can
also be elicited by the social evaluations of other people (e.g.,
praise). Wiggert et al. argued that emotional responses to social
evaluations by others are modulated by gender. They found that
positive evaluations expressed by men elicited stronger facial
electromyography responses in both genders, whereas arousal
was higher when positive evaluations were expressed by the
opposite gender. These results suggest that emotionally evocative
processes unfold differently depending on the gender of the
interaction partners.
Despite the fact that research on the social nature of emotion
is blossoming, developmental studies are relatively scarce.
Extending classic work by Fridlund (1991) on the potentiating
Frontiers in Psychology |
At the dyadic level of analysis, dominant research themes
revolve around how people perceive, interpret, and respond
to the emotional expressions of interaction partners, and how
such effects are shaped by the social context. One way in
which emotional expressions influence observers is by proving
information about the expresser’s interpretation of a situation
(Manstead and Fischer, 2001; Van Kleef, 2009). Integrating
theorizing on attribution, appraisal processes, and the use of
emotions as social information (EASI), the contribution by Van
Doorn et al. examined how emotional expressions influence
attributions of agency and responsibility under conditions of
ambiguity. Across three studies, they found that expressions of
regret fueled inferences that the expresser was responsible for
an adverse situation, whereas expressions of anger signaled that
someone else was responsible. These results show that emotional
expressions can help people make sense of ambiguous social
situations by informing attributions that correspond with the
appraisal structures that are associated with discrete emotions.
In a more applied vein, Cheshin et al. examined how people
use the emotional expressions of professional baseball pitchers to
make predictions regarding their upcoming pitches. Participants
in their study expected pitchers with happy expressions to
throw more accurate balls, pitchers with angry expressions to
throw faster and more difficult balls, and pitchers with worried
expressions to throw slower and less accurate balls. Participants
also expected that batters would be more likely to swing at
balls thrown by pitchers showing happy facial expressions, and
these predictions were marginally associated with batters’ actual
swinging. These findings provide first-time evidence that the
information that is conveyed by emotional expressions can
potentially be leveraged to enhance performance in professional
A considerable body of research indicates that social
decision making is strongly influenced by the emotional
expressions of interaction partners (Van Kleef et al., 2010a).
However, the majority of this work has been conducted
with healthy participants. de la Asuncion et al. investigated
responses to emotional expressions of interaction partners in the
context of fair vs. unfair decisions among healthy individuals
and patients with schizophrenia. They found that healthy
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van Kleef et al.
The Social Nature of Emotions
participants’ behavioral responses to their interaction partners’
unfair decisions were influenced by the partners’ emotional
expressions, whereas schizophrenia patients’ decisions were not
affected by the proposers’ emotions. This finding indicates that
schizophrenia patients have specific problems with processing
and integrating emotional information, which jeopardizes the
quality of their social relationships.
When a social relationship is threatened by a transgression,
an apology by the offender can help to restore the relationship
by eliciting forgiveness. For instance, apologizing for an outburst
of anger has been found to alleviate negative consequences of the
anger expression for impressions and desire for future interaction
(Van Kleef and De Dreu, 2010). Extending the literature on the
social effects of apologies, Beyens et al. found that participants
who were punished by an interaction partner after a failure
reacted less aggressively when the partner apologized afterward
than when the partner did not apologize. They further found
that female (but not male) participants held enhanced implicit
attitudes toward the apologizing opponent. These findings
confirm that apologies can dampen reactive aggression after
Shifting the temporal perspective, Niven et al. investigated
the role of emotions in the process of building new relationships,
examining whether attempts to improve others’ feelings can
help people make connections in social networks. Across two
studies, they found that the use of interpersonal emotion
regulation strategies predicted growth in popularity in work
and non-work interactions, although different strategies of
interpersonal emotion regulation had differential effects.
Behavioral strategies (e.g., providing comfort or reassurance)
were positively associated with popularity, while cognitive
strategies (e.g., changing a person’s appraisals about the
situation) were negatively associated with popularity. These
findings shed new light on the role of emotions in the formation
of new relationships.
The social signaling function of emotions may be
particularly critical in settings where individuals are confronted
with potentially threatening or harmful stimuli. In such
circumstances, expressions of fear or pain may serve an
important warning function (Williams, 2002). Accordingly,
conscious observation of others’ painful facial expressions has
been found to increase pain perception in observers and to
facilitate behavioral response tendencies. Extending this line of
research, Khatibi et al. observed that ratings of the painfulness
of aversive stimulation were higher following subliminal
presentation of painful as opposed to happy expressions.
Furthermore, they found that participants’ tendencies to respond
faster to targets in a computer task that were preceded by aversive
stimulation was especially pronounced when participants were
presented with subliminal painful expressions. This study
indicates that even subliminal exposure to painful expressions
can increase pain perception and enhance behavioral response
In a related vein, Khatibi et al. examined how individuals
respond to ambiguous painful facial expressions as a function
of how they think about pain—more specifically, whether
individuals have a tendency to “catastrophize” pain experiences.
Frontiers in Psychology |
The authors created ambiguous pain expressions by morphing
facial expressions of pain with facial expressions of happiness.
In an incidental learning task, high (but not low) pain
catastrophizers responded faster to targets appearing at the
location predicted by painful expressions than to targets at the
location predicted by happy expressions, suggesting that high
pain catastrophizers are more likely to interpret ambiguous facial
expressions of pain in a negative, pain-related manner. This
interpretation bias was mitigated when explicit cues of threat vs.
safety were provided, corroborating the notion that emotional
expressions are particularly informative in the absence of more
direct sources of information (Van Kleef, 2016).
At the group level of analysis, researchers study how emotional
patterns in groups shape the evolution of group norms and
goals, group cohesion, differentiation from other groups, and the
behavior of individual group members, among other things. As
part of the current research topic, Delvaux et al. investigated
in three studies how group members’ emotional fit with their
group is associated with their level of identification with the
group. A cross-sectional study and two longitudinal studies
point to a positive and bidirectional association between group
identification and emotional fit, such that group identification
and emotional fit either mutually reinforce or mutually dampen
each other over time. This finding sheds new light on the
temporal emotional dynamics of group identification.
Group identification tends to develop more readily in
groups of physically co-located individuals than in groups
of individuals who are situated at different locations and
who are communicating via computer-mediated technology.
Järvelä et al. investigated how communicating via such
technologies influences the synchronization of physiological
activity across individuals, which has been proposed as an
underlying mechanism of emotional contagion and resultant
feelings of similarity and identification (Hatfield et al., 1993; Hess
and Fischer, 2016). A text chat option provided intermittent
communicative emotional expressions to the group, while heart
rate visualization showed continuous information about each
group member’s physiological state and their dyadic linkage to
other group members. The opportunity of text chat increased
heart rate synchrony regardless of physical presence, whereas
heart rate visualization only increased synchrony within non-colocated dyads. Järvelä and colleagues speculated that emotional
contagion is a more natural pathway to interpersonal synchrony
in physically co-located groups, which reduces the perceived
informational value of physiological information about other
group members.
When it comes to using emotional information from fellow
group members to make sense of situations, a relevant question is
how the emotional expressions of group members are combined.
One type of information that may be gleaned from emotional
expressions in groups is whether one’s behavior is deemed
acceptable, with expressions of happiness signaling acceptance
and expressions of anger signaling rejection (Heerdink et al.,
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van Kleef et al.
The Social Nature of Emotions
others (Hareli et al., 2013; Van Kleef, 2016). Hareli et al. examined
cross-cultural differences in how individuals use group members’
emotional expressions to learn group norms. Consistent with
research at the group level of analysis (Heerdink et al., 2013;
Heerdink et al.), across cultures anger expressions were perceived
as a stronger signal of norm violations than were sad or neutral
expressions. However, whereas people in Germany and Israel
were better able to learn the norm based on expressions of
anger, people in Greece were better able to learn the norm
based on expressions of sadness. These results indicate that
the interpersonal effects of emotional expressions vary across
cultures, perhaps as a results of the differential appropriateness of
certain emotional expressions in different cultural contexts (see
Van Kleef, 2016).
2013). Heerdink et al. examined how many members of a group
need to express their anger to influence a deviant group member.
In two studies, they found that each additional angry reaction
linearly increased the extent to which a deviant individual felt
rejected. This felt rejection was found to promote conformity
to the group norm when the deviant was motivated to seek
reacceptance in the group and the shift toward conformity
could be observed by the group. These findings highlight how
emotional expressions may act in the interest of group goals by
informing members about the desirability of their behavior.
Taking an intergroup approach, Furley et al. investigated
responses to emotional expressions by teammates vs. opponents.
Drawing on EASI theory (Van Kleef, 2009, 2016), Furley
and colleagues argued and showed that emotional expressions
take on different meanings and invite differential responses
depending on whether they are emitted by members of one’s
own group or a competing outgroup. In particular, they
found that pride expressions by opponents inspired negative
emotions and cognitions and pessimistic expectancies regarding
the performance of one’s own team, whereas pride expressions
by teammates instilled more positive emotions, cognitions,
and performance expectations. These findings emphasize the
importance of the social context in shaping the interpretation of
emotional expressions.
There is a growing scholarly awareness that emotions are
intrinsically social in that they are typically elicited, expressed,
regulated, perceived, interpreted, and responded to in social
settings. It is clear from the articles in this research topic that
the study of the social nature of emotions is blossoming. The
contributions cover a wide range of exciting new questions
that span the individual, dyadic, group, and cultural levels
of analysis. However, research at the group and cultural
levels of analysis is comparatively underrepresented. This
is no doubt due to the fact that such research is often
complicated and time-consuming to conduct. These difficulties
notwithstanding, research at the group and cultural levels
of analysis is critical for our understanding of the social
nature of emotions, and we call for more research in these
It is notable that the contributions to this research
topic employed a rich variety of methodologies, including
correlational, longitudinal, and experimental designs involving
behavioral, self-report, cardiovascular, and neurological
measures. To reach the next frontier in the study of the
social nature of emotions, it will be important to incorporate
multiple measures in our research designs so as to facilitate
cross-validation and interpretation of findings. Such integration
promises to further enhance understanding of how individuals
process their own and others’ emotions, and how they respond to
these emotions as a function of the relational, group, or cultural
At the cultural level of analysis, the challenge is to understand
the emotional interface between the individual and his or her
cultural surroundings, which includes cultural influences on the
emotion process as well as the effects of cultural fit on emotional
functioning. Culture-specific patterns of emotions reflect cultural
values and priorities (Mesquita, 2003). Accordingly, individuals
within a given culture tend to experience similar patterns of
emotions when confronted with similar situations. As such,
the extent to which an individual’s emotions are similar to
the culture’s average emotional pattern in the situation reflects
his or her adoption of cultural values and priorities. In their
contribution to the current research topic, De Leersnyder et al.
examined whether such “emotional fit with culture” is associated
with psychological well-being. They measured emotional fit
with culture by comparing respondents’ emotional patterns to
the average cultural pattern for the same type of situation,
comparing individuals from Korea, Belgium, and the United
States. The results revealed that psychological well-being was
predicted by emotional fit with culture in autonomy-promoting
situations at work in the United States, in relatedness-promoting
situations at home in Korea, and in both autonomy-promoting
and relatedness-promoting situations in Belgium. These findings
suggest that the experience of culturally appropriate patterns of
emotions contributes to psychological well-being.
The ability to show emotional or behavioral responses that fit
with one’s culture requires an awareness of prevailing cultural
norms and values. Whenever, such norms are not apparent,
people may infer them based on the emotional expressions of
Frontiers in Psychology |
GvK wrote the article; AC, AF, and IS provided comments on the
Preparation of this article was supported by a grant from the
Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO 452-09010) awarded to the first author.
June 2016 | Volume 7 | Article 896
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Frontiers in Psychology |
Conflict of Interest Statement: The authors declare that the research was
conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could
be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
Copyright © 2016 van Kleef, Cheshin, Fischer and Schneider. This is an open-access
article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC
BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the
original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this
journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution
or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
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  • Click “CREATE ACCOUNT & SIGN IN” to enter your registration details and get an account with us for record-keeping and then, click on “PROCEED TO CHECKOUT” at the bottom of the page.
  • From there, the payment sections will show, follow the guided payment process and your order will be available for our writing team to work on it.