Flash talks: Emotions and the media

July 12th Room 1

A Media Theory on the Performances of Emotions as Functions in Interaction, Organization, and Society 

Robin Kurilla

The literature entrusts emotions in manifold ways with social functions. There is, however, one common denominator: the notion that emotions mediate. In order to organize the plethora of functionalist accounts of emotions around a unifying point of reference and to create a base for cross-cultural comparisons, this paper depicts emotions as media, drawing upon, among others, Luhmann, Hegel, and Aureli. Instead of functions, however, the emphasis lies on the performances of emotions because it remains unclear on a general level whether or not these performances are functional. Simmel’s depiction of fear as a means to enhance cohesion does not necessarily evoke functionalist connotations, as fear-induced cohesion reduces the degree of individual freedom as well as the variability of the group as a whole and may even be viewed as a threat by outsiders. Moreover, the performances of emotions as media have to be identified before examining whether they act as functions on different levels of analysis such as interaction, organization, and society. Generally speaking, emotions can be considered media in a threefold sense. They mediate guidance, sociation, and/or success. Within these types of performances, more discriminative distinctions can be drawn. As media of sociation, e.g., emotions contribute to structuring social entities. This may be achieved by providing the foundations for certain interaction models such as loving intimate communication or angry quarrels, by enhancing social cohesion, by creating inter-emotionality as the base for intersubjectivity or as the affective fundament of social entities, by the emotional fabrication of identity and distinction, etc.

European Medieval Passion Plays as Opulent Sources for Emotion Research 

Ivan Missoni

Medieval passion plays, particularly through their main protagonists, Christ and the Virgin Mary, conveyed as well as elicited abundant expressions of compelling emotions, both positive and negative. They constituted one of the most popular and influential dramatic genres of the Middle Ages, which flourished from the 14th until the 16th century, and was spread throughout most of Catholic Europe, ranging from the Iberian Peninsula in the west, Scandinavia in the north and the Balkans in the south-east. Since they were performed on stage during the Holy Week, concurrently with the appropriate religious observances and processions (both liturgical and concerning popular piety), they thus had a pivotal moral-didactic role in religious education of the faithful. Functioning as paradigmatic emotion scripts capable of generating intense emotions, hence prompting the audience attending passion plays to form ad hoc emotional communities, I would argue that the aforementioned texts by means of discipling discourses on Christ’s passion and Mary’s compassion had also set an edifying and uplifting example of how in Christian thought and practice to properly love each other and love God.

Souvenirs and Travel Guides: The Cognitive Sociology of Grieving Public Figures 

Daniel Nolan

The deaths of public figures can produce a variety of emotional reactions. While bereavement research has explored mourning family or close friends, this literature does little to address the experience of grief for public figures. Similarly, research on how people relate to public figures provides an incomplete picture of the symbolic associations people can form with those figures. This study relies on interviews with individuals who had a memorable reaction to the death of a public figure to explore the emotions and meanings these individuals associated with that figure. Results suggest two ideal type reactions: Grief, characterized by disruption and sharp pain, and Melancholy, characterized by distraction and dull ache. Respondents reported symbolic associations between the figure and some meaning they had incorporated into their cognitive framework. I argue that emotional reactions to the death of a public figure are an affective signal of disruption to the individual’s cognitive functioning caused by the loss of meaning maintained by the figure. The key difference in kind and intensity of reaction is related to the cognitive salience of the lost meaning. This research highlights the emotional experiences of those individuals who use internalized cultural objects in their sense-making process. More broadly, by revealing symbolically meaningful relationships that shape cognitive frameworks, this analysis offers cognitive sociological insights into research about the function of role models, collective memories, and other cultural objects on the individual’s understanding of their world.

Feels Different When S/he Judges It – Gender and Grammar Factors in Emotion Word Evaluations 

Halszka Bak & Jeanette Altarriba

There is a growing body of evidence that words denoting emotions constitute a distinct semantic and conceptual category. Here we will present core evaluation data (valence, arousal, dominance) from a project dedicated to mapping the basic emotion concepts in English and in Polish and cataloguing words denoting them. For this project we collected all synonyms of terms denoting the canonical six basic emotions (anger, sadness, disgust, fear, happiness, surprise) in noun, verb, and adjective forms from lexicographic sources in English and in Polish. We presented these words (balanced for basic emotions and parts of speech) to male and female native speakers of English and Polish for evaluation using the Self-Assessment Manikin (Bradley & Lang 1994). The current data collected thus far for English indicate that there are significant differences in the evaluations for emotion words expressed as different parts of speech, with verbs scoring consistently higher on valence, arousal, and dominance. There also appear to be significant gender differences in evaluations, with male participants making consistently higher evaluations of valence and female participants consistently higher evaluations of arousal and dominance. Since Polish has grammatical gender expressed morphologically, we expect to see significant interactions between the participants’ gender and the grammatical gender of the emotion words presented to them. These results would support the idea that gender and part of speech are both significant factors in how emotion concepts are construed and processed and they may have constituted a confounding variable in a variety of previous studies.

Affective lexical content in EFL textbooks 

María Jesús Sánchez, Alfredo Fernández-Sánchez & Elisa Pérez-García

The purpose of the present study is to analyse the emotion vocabulary content of three upper-intermediate textbooks of English as a foreign language (EFL) to discover the extent to which they foster the acquisition of this target vocabulary. Teaching experience in EFL classrooms shows that students at this level are not proficient when it comes to expressing their emotions; consequently, it is hypothesized that emotion vocabulary is poorly represented in the textbooks. The EFL textbooks used are the following: (1) Masterclass (Haines & Stewart, 2008), (2) English File (Latham-Koenig & Oxenden, 2014), and (3) Jetstream (Harmer & Revell, 2016), widely available and commonly used in the instruction of EFL at a B2 level (Council of Europe, 2001). Two normative sets of affective lexicon in the English language are used to select the target vocabulary in the textbooks. First, the affective norm list in English by Warriner, Kuperman, and Brysbaert (2013), where 13,915 English lemmas are rated in emotionality. Second, Hobbs and Gordon's (2011), a reduced list of pure emotion terms and expressions. The data, obtained through computerized tools (e.g., AntConc, Lancsbox, Vocabprofile), will be used to establish quantitative and qualitative comparisons. The findings will provide information on the representation, grammatical category and bands of frequency of emotion vocabulary in the textbooks, a valuable knowledge to teach this semantic field to students who are not proficient.

Emotion language in naturalistic smart phone usage: Associations with Intensive ESM assessment and social context 

Nicholas Allen

Using the EARS mobile sensing tool (Lind et al., JMIR-MH, 2018) with a college population, we collected all the typed text entered into participants’ smartphones over a 1 week period while simultaneously pushing 8 ESM surveys each day that assessed mood and social context (i.e., who have you primarily spent time with over the past 2 hours?) Analyses show the relationship between naturalistic language use (i.e., word sentiment, word embeddings, and emoji use) and self-reported ESM mood ratings. Furthermore, the role of social context in moderating the temporal dynamics and cross model associations in these data streams will also be reported. Findings will be discussed in terms of the validity of naturalistic text collected on smartphones as an indicator of the level of temporal dynamics of affect, and the role of social texts in moderating the role of social context in moderating affective experience and expression.

Associations between disengagement use and well-being: when and for whom? 

Kalee De France & Gary Evans

A heavy reliance on disengagement strategies to manage emotional experiences is consistently associated with lower levels of well-being. Nascent research has suggested that socioeconomic status (SES) may influence the associations between regulatory strategy use and well-being, however, it remains unclear whether SES affects the association between disengagement use and well-being, and whether this impact remains consistent across development. The current study used a longitudinal methodology to investigate whether the association between disengagement use and well-being was moderated by SES, as well as whether or not this impact remained consistent across adolescence and into adulthood. Participants included 343 early adolescents (mean age: 13) who were retested during late adolescence (mean age: 17) and adulthood (mean age: 25). Results showed that SES significantly moderated the association between disengagement use and internalizing symptoms during early adolescence and adulthood, but not late adolescence. During early adolescence and adulthood, individuals in a lower SES had a stronger association between disengagement use and internalizing symptoms. SES also significantly moderated the association between disengagement use and externalizing symptoms, but only during early adolescence. Early adolescents in a lower SES showed a stronger association between disengagement use and externalizing symptoms. Theoretical and clinical implications will be discussed.

Relating Objective Social Media Behaviour to Event-Based Assessments of Emotions and Well-Being 

Nastasia Griffioen, Marieke van Rooij, Anna Lichtwarck-Aschoff & Isabela Granic

Humans are social creatures, and theories and studies alike suggest that social contact plays a vital role in humans' ability to cope with stress in life, affecting both physical and mental well-being. Our social lives have been changing, however, and recent technological developments have lead to communication taking place predominantly in online environments such as social media, rather than in face-to-face contexts. However, as is often the case with novel technologies, the perks and possibilities offered by social media have been met with skepticism and caution: seeing the younger generations become increasingly attached to their screens has many people worried for the younger population’s mental health. Indeed, depression and anxiety have become increasingly prominent and problematic, especially in teens and young adults. Nevertheless, very little is known about the exact ways in which the social processes and activities taking place online are related to young people's mental health and the potential development of psychopathologies. Whereas the majority of previous studies has been based on subjective, self-report measures of social media use and suboptimal timing of assessments of well-being, the present study examined the relationship between social media use and well-being by collecting objective social media use data and relating it to social media use-triggered assessments (Ecological Momentary Assessment) of emotions and well-being. Results will be discussed in terms of the emotional risks and benefits of social media use in youth.

Taking Emotional Support to the Text Level: Digital and In-person Support and Successful Emotion Regulation 

Tom Hollenstein

Successful regulation of emotions is greatly facilitated by social support, which is positively related to overall well-being and relationship quality. With the rapid increase in the use of information and communication technologies, much social support is now received digitally rather than in person, which involves different methods of interacting with others. However, we currently have scant understanding of the impact of digital support on emotion regulation and whether it differs from support received in person. The current study examined the indirect effects of seeking and receiving emotional support both digitally and in-person on the relationship between the intensity of emotions and the success of emotion regulation. One-hundred and seventy-one youth who just arrived for their first year of university completed a smart phone experience sampling app three times a day for two weeks to answer questions about their emotions and emotional support. For the present study, we tested whether the direct relation between emotion intensity and emotion regulation success was mediated by digital and in-person social support. Using a multi-level indirect effects model with sampling prompts nested within individuals in MPlus, we will show that there is an overall indirect effect of social support facilitating greater success in down-regulating negative emotions. Importantly, we will show both specific indirect effects of digital and in-person support. Discussion will focus on the need to better understand how digital social contexts might provide long distance support, especially during emotional challenges of novel situations away from home.