Individual talks: Gender, social class and emotions

July 11th A1.02

Dirty workers emotional work: A pilot study about Swedish funeral directors

Anneli Öljarstrand

Purpose – The purpose of the study is to investigate emotionally challenging situations in Swedish funeral directors’ daily work with death and their emotional work in these situations. Design/methodology/approach – This qualitative pilot study is based on seven in-depth interviews with funeral directors from three funeral office in Sweden. The data was analyzed using the method meningskategorisering (Kvale 1997) e.g. data was coded in several steps that ended up in some empirical themes. Theoretical focus – The study has a symbolic interactionist perspective which means; emotions are accepted as something physiological and valued as a form of cognition, but also understood as an effect of social and cultural forces, shaped by the social world, and located and contextualised within social practice. The analyse is guided by theory about spontaneous and genuine emotional labour, e.g. workers’ natural and spontaneous emotions, complying with social expectations and organizational display rules. Major conclusions – The results show that Swedish funeral directors face several emotionally stressful situations in daily work. The most emotionally challenged situations are taking care of dead children or parents of children and young people. To deal with the genuine feelings of sadness and powerlessness, they use different tools: Frontstage they try to manage their thoughts and pay attention to practical tasks and backstage they talk about difficult experiences with their mates and use humour and laughter as an important emotional vent

Negative Emotion and Perceptions of Social Class

R. Thora Bjornsdottir & Nicholas O. Rule

Recent research indicates that rich people’s neutral faces display more positive affect than poor people’s neutral faces do, providing emotion-based cues for the accurate perception of social class (Bjornsdottir & Rule, 2017). Furthermore, perceivers categorize smiling faces as rich more often than neutral faces. But do perceivers use only differences in valence to judge social class from the face, or do they hold expectations about specific emotions? We tested this here by examining how three negatively valenced emotions affect perceptions of social class: sadness, anger, and disgust. The former two relate to both stereotypes and actual correlates of lower social class (depression, hostility; Marmot et al., 1991), whereas disgust does not. Consistent with stereotypes of poor people, targets expressing sadness and anger were categorized as poor more often than neutral targets. However, targets expressing disgust were also perceived as poorer than neutral targets. Together, this suggests that perceivers rely on differences in valence rather than specific emotions to form judgments of others’ social class. These findings provide more nuance to our understanding of the relation between emotion and perceptions of social class, indicating that the more pervasive association of low social class as a negative state, rather than specific emotion stereotypes, may drive social class impressions.

Sex Differences in Emotional Concordance

Julina A. Rattel, Frank H. Wilhelm, Michael Liedlgruber & Iris B. Mauss

Emotions involve response synchronization across experiential, physiological, and behavioral systems, referred to as concordance. While initial evidence supports this idea, important questions relating to concordance remain. First, experience can be captured along the dimensions of valence and arousal. Yet, to date little research on concordance has distinguished these two dimensions, leaving it open whether concordance is driven by valence, arousal, or both. Second, theorizing that women are more emotionally aware and expressive than men, one might expect stronger concordance in women than men. However, little research has examined sex differences in concordance. To address these questions, the present study examined effects of affect dimension (arousal and valence) and sex on response concordance. We measured experiential (arousal, valence), autonomic (electrodermal activity, heart rate, preejection-period, respiratory-sinus-arrhythmia), respiratory (respiratory-rate), and behavioral (electromyography at corrugator and zygomatic muscles) responses during 15 two-minute films varying on valence and arousal dimensions. We then quantified pair-wise concordance by computing Spearman’s correlations across films (i.e., within person). Arousal (compared to valence) revealed higher concordance with physiological measures, whereas valence (compared to arousal) revealed higher concordance with behavioral measures. Women displayed moderate to strong concordance, and for almost all indices higher concordance than men. Sex differences in concordance were not explained by response variation in arousal, valence, or body movement across films; thus, sex differences in concordance were not secondary to sex differences in emotional reactivity and metabolic demand. Findings indicate large variance between self-report dimension with physiological and behavioral responses and stronger response coupling in women than men.