Emotions as linking pins between individuals and collectives

July 13th Room 3
Marc Heerdink (University of Amsterdam), Svenja Wolf (University of Amsterdam) & Gerben van Kleef (University of Amsterdam)

Collectives are complex social systems, that shape –and are shaped by– their constituent members. Affective processes play a key role in the bi-directional processes between individuals and collectives (Van Kleef & Fischer, 2016). Within this symposium, we bring together perspectives from social psychology, organizational psychology, sociology, and computational social science, to provide insight into how affective processes shape –and are shaped by– identity (identification, identity fusion), group structure (norms, hierarchy), and group performance. Each presentation captures a subset of these relations as they occur in real-world collectives. The first two presentations highlight the strong links between individual and collective affective experiences. First, taking an organizational approach, Wolf and colleagues discuss the role of emotion norms in emotional convergence in professional kitchens. Second, adopting a Durkheimian approach at the intersection of social psychology and sociology, Zumeta and colleagues highlight how identity shapes collective flow and perceived emotional synchrony. The next three presentations focus on collective-level factors: group structure and performance. Morgan and colleagues combine sociological, social-psychological, and computational approaches to demonstrate how group structure (hierarchy and reciprocity) shapes individual positive affect in a large-scale online community. Next, Van Kleef and colleagues discuss how sports coaches' emotional displays shape collective affect, individual player's cognitions, and team performance. Finally, Heerdink and Homan show that individual emotions about upcoming group assignments predict student group performance. Together, these presentations highlight the importance of affective processes at the interface between individuals and collectives, and demonstrate the value of an interdisciplinary approach to understand these dynamics.

Collective emotions in open vs. closed professional kitchens and the role of emotion expression norms 

Svenja Anna Wolf, Lukas D. Schakel & Eftychia Stamkou

Due to time-restrictions and potential costs of failure, professional kitchen teams routinely work under high pressure. Such pressure likely elicits intense emotions (Lazarus, 1999) and the team setting encourages members' emotional agreement (Barsade & Knight, 2015). The extent of emotional agreement, however, depends on contextual factors such as emotion expression norms (Kelly & Barsade, 2001). In this study, we investigated emotional agreement and convergence in professional kitchen teams across an evening of service in different types of kitchen environments. Specifically, we investigated whether agreement and convergence differed depending on the accessibility of kitchens to guests (i.e., open vs. closed kitchens) and whether these differences could be explained by differing emotion expression norms. Upon their arrival at the restaurants, immediately prior to service, immediately after service, and immediately after cleaning 28 kitchen teams (89 chefs; M = 29.90 years old, 72% male) completed paper-and-pencil measures of happiness, excitement, pride, dejection, anxiety, guilt, and anger as well as emotion expression norms. Teams showed emotional agreement for all emotions at least at one time-point (ICC = .06 to .58) and converged across time in pleasant emotions (f = 1.02 to 1.11) as well as dejection (f = 0.96). However, neither agreement nor convergence differed between open and closed kitchens (f = 0.03 and f = 0.14) although chefs working in open kitchens reported more restrictive emotion expression norms (f = .31). Thus, our findings document collective emotions in professional kitchen teams but beg questions regarding their underlying mechanisms and social or task-related consequences.

The Affective Foundations of Hierarchy: A Theoretical Investigation of Group Activities on GitHub 

Jonathan Morgan, Kimberly Rogers, Nikolas Zöller, Jun Zhao & Tobias Schröder

We present research that shows how both group structures and the cultural sentiments attached to group members’ identities shape patterns of behavioral exchange and emotional experiences within online collaborative groups. Our work applies computational techniques to analyze group dynamics in software development teams on GitHub, the world’s largest software development platform. Drawing on well-established theories of interaction from sociological social psychology (Heise 2007; Lawler, Thye, and Yoon 2008), we compare predicted behaviors and emotions in software development teams, generated through simulations based on our theoretically-grounded model of group interactions, to observations of actual group interactions on GitHub, with a specific interest in comparing the behaviors and emotions generated in groups that have (1) hierarchical vs. egalitarian group structures, (2) primarily make contributions directly or through intermediaries, and (3) exhibit greater or less reciprocity in group member contributions. Preliminary results indicate that hierarchical groups that feature reciprocity in group member contributions experience more positive emotions than hierarchical groups with low reciprocity or egalitarian groups. Simulation results indicate that one mechanism that likely explains this finding is that these groups tend to generate lower levels of uncertainty about group members’ roles and behavioral expectations than egalitarian groups, while also allowing group members opportunities to affirm their identities.

Perceived emotional synchronization and shared flow in collective sports-physical activities 

Estibaliz Mateos-Pérez, Larraitz Zumeta, José J. Pizarro, Magdalena Bobowik, Nekane Basabe, Anna Wlodarczyk, Saioa Telletxea & Alberto Amutio

In recent years, there is a growing interest in the study of collective emotions and their effects at the individual and group level. Team sports and physical activities performed in the company of others constitute an excellent framework for the study of collective emotional processes. This correlational study analyzes the relationship between identity-related processes, shared flow and perceived emotional synchrony on perceived collective efficacy (PCE), in collective sports and physical activities. We propose that ingroup identification and fusion with the group will associate with PCE, and the experience of shared flow (SF) and perceived emotional synchrony (PES) will mediate this relationship. A sample of 276 university students filled in a questionnaire measuring different aspects related to their participation in collective physical and sports activities. Multiple mediation analyses showed that SF and PES mediate the relationship between ingroup identification and PCE, whereas the relationship between identity fusion and PCE was only mediated by PES. Results suggest that both SF and PES explain the positive effects of ingroup identification and identity fusion with the group on PCE. This study, in line with a Durkheimian approach, highlights the utility of collective emotions and social identities in collective activities and gatherings. Specifically, it shows the substantial role of the emotional synchrony (emotional contagion between the group members and sharing emotions among them, as well as, a perceived synchronic behaviour) as a factor that promotes the perception of collective efficacy.

Positive effects of negative group affective states: Anxiety about group assignments predicts student group performance 

Marc Heerdink & Astrid Homan

Social-functional accounts of emotions assume that emotions have evolved because they advance the survival of individuals and groups alike. At odds with this assumption, the vast majority of studies on the relation between negative group affective states and group performance show this relation to be negative (Knight & Eisenkraft, 2015). To explain this apparent contradiction, we suggest that it is useful to (a) focus on the negative emotions that members bring into the group rather than the emotions that they experience while being in the group, and (b) to distinguish between specific negative emotions, analyzing how they may simultaneously affect individual and group functioning. We conducted two studies in two subsequent cohorts in a course on group processes. Students reported their feelings about the three group assignments prior to being assigned to groups of 3 or 4 members. At the end of the course, participants completed a questionnaire about the functioning of their group. In both studies, shared emotions about the group assignments explained a substantial amount of variance in actual group grades (>30%): groups composed of students who, on average, felt more anxious (and more enthusiastic) about, and prior to the group assignments performed better. Mean-level anger was unrelated to group performance. We conclude that to understand how negative emotions are functional for groups, it is important to distinguish between those caused by internal (group functioning) and external (e.g., the task) factors, and to take both the individual-level and group-level effects of these emotions into account.

Emotional Games: How Sports Coaches' Emotional Expressions Shape Players' Emotions, Inferences, and Team Performance 

Gerben van Kleef, Arik Cheshin, Lukas Koning & Svenja Wolf

Sports games are inherently emotional situations. Although a plethora of research has investigated how athletes' emotions influence their own performance, scant attention has been paid to how one person's emotional expressions influence others in the sports context. In particular, it remains unclear whether and how sports coaches' emotional expressions influence players. Drawing on emotions as social information (EASI) theory, we examined how coaches' emotional expressions influence players' affect, cognition, and behavior. Across two multi-source field studies of baseball and soccer teams, we found evidence that coaches' expressions of happiness and anger predict (1) players' experiences of happiness and anger, (2) players' inferences about the quality of their performance, and (3) objective team performance outcomes. Regarding team performance, we found that coaches' expressions of happiness were conducive to team performance, whereas expressions of anger were not. These results provide first-time quantitative evidence for the beneficial effects of coaches' positive emotional expressions on sports performance. The findings support key tenets of EASI theory and have implications for the broader literatures on coaching and leadership.