Flash talks: Social and interpersonal relations

July 12th Room 3


Daniel Vanello

Recent accounts in both Philosophy and Developmental Psychology argue that social affective interactions –e.g. mother–infant attachment, sibling interaction, school peers interaction- play an essential developmental role in the ability to understand other minds (e.g. Vasu Reddy; Noami Eilan). The aim of this presentation is to argue that if affective social interaction is to be conceived as an essential developmental component of our ability to understand other minds, then we need to commit to a view of the emotions as constituted by our behavioural/bodily responses and action tendencies (Nico Frijda; Fabrice Teroni). I support my thesis by relying on longitudinal studies linking the emotional quality of infant-caretaker attachment to the quality of the child’s emotion understanding 4-6 years later (e.g. Peter Fonagy; Paul Harris). I argue that these studies suggest that the acquisition of the child’s understanding of emotions involves the child’s learning to match his/her emotions to the caretaker’s appropriate behavioural response and action tendencies when interacting with one another e.g. when playing with the caretaker, the child matches his/her joy with experience of caretaker’s joyful action tendency. The child’s experience of matching his/her emotions with the caretaker’s appropriate action tendencies is also what allows the child to acquire emotional self-regulation. The upshot is that unless we view emotions as constituted by our behavioural responses and actions tendencies, we cannot explain why social affective interaction plays an essential developmental role in understanding other minds.

Leaders’ positivity and use of naturally felt emotions:valuable emotion regulation strategy associated with mental well-being 

Annie Haver & Kristin Akerjordet

Content/Purpose: Emotions play a vital part and are crucial determinants of how well we function in everyday life. If emotions occur at the wrong time or at the wrong intensity they can hurt rather than help, and can thus diminish leaders’ mental well-being. The extent to which this happens probably depends on the type of emotion regulation strategies they use to manage their emotions. Leaders who are enthusiastic and energetic are likely to create a positive emotional environment, enhancing employees’ well-being. Conversely, leaders who display negative emotions may influence their employees negatively. Design/Methodology: Online self-report questionnaire was used to collect data from 246 Swedish leaders (71% response rate). Data were analyzed using regression analyses and mediation analyses using PROCESS Model. Results: Data confirmed a positive effect between positive emotions and mental well-being and a negative effect of negative emotions on mental well-being. Findings suggest that natural felt emotions is an adaptive regulation strategy because it partially mediates the positive relationship between positive emotions and mental well-being. Suppression was found to be harmful because it partially mediate the negative relationship between negative emotions and mental well-being. This suggest that leaders’ positivity and use of naturally felt emotions is a valuable emotion regulation strategy associated with mental well-being. Limitations: The major limitation is use of cross-sectional self-report data. Research/Practical Implications: The study has implications for further studies and for developing management training. Originality/Value: Contributes to the limited literature on leaders’ emotion regulation and mental health/well-being

Not to my kin: Anger, disgust and aggression as responses to sibling versus stranger harm 

Karie Moorman, Lukas Lopez, Sara Schneider, Melissa Baker & Colin Holbrook

Angry reactions to moral violations should be heightened when wrongs befall oneself in comparison to when wrongs befall strangers, as prior research by Molho and colleagues (2017) demonstrates, because aggressive confrontation is inherently risky and therefore only incentivized by natural selection to curtail significant future fitness costs (Tooby & Cosmides, 2008). Since it is known that individuals are likely to incur costs to aid kin (Stewart-Williams, 2007), we extend this functional perspective to cases of wrongs inflicted on siblings. In two pre-registered studies, we utilized vignettes previously used to evoke moral anger and disgust (Molho, et al., 2017), and added a condition where one’s sibling was victimized. A significant interaction between scenario target and emotion was found (Study 1a: F[2, 462] = 11.23, p < .001; Study 1b: F[2, 565] = 7.79, p < .001). Specifically, we observed equivalently heightened anger in response to transgressions against either oneself (ps < .008) or one’s sibling relative to transgressions against strangers (ps < .009), whereas transgressions against strangers evoked greater disgust (associated with social avoidance) (p = .006). In our second study, we found that the elevated anger reported in response to self or sibling harm relative to stranger harm partially mediated heightened inclinations to directly confront the transgressor (bs > .04, ps < .001). These overall results broadly replicate Molho et al.’s findings and theoretically extend the sociofunctionalist evolutionary account of moral emotions to kinship. Forthcoming studies assess how political orientation factors into moral emotional responses to violations targeting one’s in-group.

The Prosocial Effects of Moral Elevation in Childhood 

Shazza Ali, Dominic Abrams & Julie Van de Vyver

Moral elevation is a positive emotion that is felt in response to acts of moral beauty (e.g. kindness, compassion, forgiveness and sacrifice). The state of elevation is embodied by feelings of warmth and openness, as well as feelings of inspiration, love, and the motivation to better the self and engage in virtuous acts for the benefit of others (Haidt, 2003; Van de Vyver & Abrams, 2017). Empirical research shows that moral elevation – induced via viewing acts of moral beauty – can effectively promote prosocial outcomes among adults (e.g., Van de Vyver & Abrams, 2015). The present research examines whether and how moral elevation promotes prosocial responses in childhood. In two studies we test the hypothesis that the effects of elevation-inducing (vs. control) stimuli on feelings of elevation and prosocial responses should increase as children develop through middle childhood between the ages of 5-11-years. Elevation-inducing stimuli significantly increased children’s feelings and appraisals of moral elevation and their prosocial motivation (Study 1, N = 91). Levels of moral elevation decreased with age and prosociality increased with age. Across age, moral elevation significantly increased children’s prosociality toward outgroup members (Study 2, N = 125). The findings suggest that elevation can be an effective tool for promoting prosociality during middle childhood. Theoretical and applied implications are discussed.

Interpersonal Emotion Regulation and Social Functioning 

Felicia Zerwas, Iris B. Mauss & Oliver P. John

People often try to change the emotional experiences or expressions of others around them (interpersonal emotion regulation; IER), such as when we tell an upset friend not to worry about a poor test score. Given how pervasive IER is, it is important to understand different forms of IER and their implications for social functioning. We distinguish among three theoretically motivated interpersonal regulatory strategies. Suppression involves keeping others from expressing their emotions; reappraisal involves reframing others’ emotional events; acceptance involves allowing others to feel their emotions without trying to change them. We argue that interpersonal suppression might hinder the formation and maintenance of close relationships, while interpersonal reappraisal and acceptance might benefit the formation and maintenance of close relationships. We examined our hypotheses in a sample of eighty female friendship pairs (N=160) between the ages of 23-78. Each participant reported on their own habitual use of the three emotion regulation strategies as well as multiple measures of social functioning. We found that interpersonal suppression was associated with lower social functioning and interpersonal acceptance was associated with higher social functioning. Most of the associations with interpersonal reappraisal were not significant. These findings suggest that it is important to compare different forms of IER. Specifically, interpersonal suppression might be a socially costly strategy; interpersonal acceptance might be a socially beneficial strategy; and interpersonal reappraisal might be a socially mixed strategy.


Cristian Vasquez & Hector Madrid

Interpersonal emotion regulation (IER) refers to the actions to initiate, maintain or change emotions in others. According to theoretical developments, IER is a common activity among team members; however, we little still known about the effects of IER on team members’ motivation and team performance. The aim of this paper is to examine whether team members’ IER influences team innovation performance, via team member approach and avoidance motivational systems. Using data from team members and leaders’ surveys, involving 2071 employees nested in 392 teams, results from structural equation modelling supported that team members’ strategies to make others feel positive feelings (IER improving-affect regulation) was positively associated with team approach motivation, which in turn was positively associated with team innovation. Conversely, team members’ strategies to make feel others negative feelings (IER worsening-affect regulation) was positively related to team avoidance motivation, which in turn was associated with lower team innovation. These findings contribute to expanding our knowledge of IER in teams, showing how these regulatory actions of team members can facilitate and inhibit their motivation necessary for innovation. Regarding practical contributions, therefore, training initiatives aimed to increase affect-improving regulation and to decrease affect-worsening behaviours should be valuable for team effectiveness.

Who is the leader? The Regulation of Other’s Emotion and Emergent Leadership 

Arik Cheshin, Gil Luria & Sagi Goldberger

It has been demonstrated that leaders influence others by using emotions (e.g., Koning & Van Kleef, 2015; Visser, van Knippenberg, van Kleef, & Wisse, 2013; Wang & Seibert, 2015). However, what about the regulation of others’ emotion? In two studies of self-managed teams, we tested whether leadership is granted to those who regulate emotion of others. In Study 1, students (n = 102) divided into 25 groups of 3-5 participants completed a short group task in the lab. In Study 2, 43 student groups of 3-6 participants (n = 141) completed a joint class assignment for 5 weeks. In both studies, participants assessed each member’s impact on team emotion and identified the leader (emergent). We found that those who regulated the emotions of their team were more likely to be selected as leaders. In Study 1, participants who created more positive team emotion were more likely to be chosen as leaders (r = .43, p < .001). In Study 2, participants who scored higher on IER self-report measure were more likely to be seen as possessing leadership qualities (r = .23, p = .006) and to be chosen as leaders (r = .21, p = .015). These studies provide initial evidence that in order to emerge as a leader one needs to regulate the emotions of teammates. Thus, interpersonal emotion regulation is a key variable that team members look for when selecting a leader.

A Two-Hour Emotion Regulation Workshop in Early Adolescents with Obesity: A Feasibility Study 

Elisa Boelens, Taaike Debeuf, Brenda Volkaert, Sandra Verbeken & Caroline Braet

Obesity is a widespread and ever-growing problem that has both short and long-term side-effects. Adolescents with obesity do not only experience physical consequences, but also suffer from psychological problems. Psychological mechanisms linked to obesity have been thoroughly investigated. An important mechanism in reducing stress or negative affect, is emotional eating. Emotional eating is defined as ‘eating in response to a range of negative emotions’ and correlates positively with the Body Mass Index. Recent studies show that emotional eating is associated with the use of maladaptive emotion regulation (ER) strategies and a deficiency in interoceptive awareness. This study aims to investigate the feasibility of a short ER training in adolescents with obesity between 9 and 16y. At the time of the study, all participants were enrolled in an inpatient treatment program for obesity. In a two hours workshop, adolescents were randomly assigned to one out of three conditions. In each condition one adaptive ER strategy (distraction, cognitive reappraisal or acceptance) was trained. Prior to learning the adaptive ER strategy, the workshop also focused on awareness as the participants had to be aware of their feelings and body sensations. After the training, participants were presented a sad mood induction after which they had to use the learned ER strategy to reduce negative affect. Feasibility will be evaluated and reported for each of the strategies based on different parameters. Results of this study were used to establish a randomized controlled trial in which the effect of a 10-session ER training will be investigated.

Body-to-body synchrony: real-life dating experiment 

Eliska Prochazkova, Friederike Behrens, Elio Sjak Shie & Mariska Kret

In a dating world in which success can be determined by brief interactions, single persons only have a short time to make a good impression. Apart from physical features, there is a whole choreography of movements, physical reactions and subtle expressions that underlie human sexual attraction. To determine what makes people attracted to their partner, this study measured couples’ physiological reactions during their first blind date. Couples were wearing eye-tracking glasses with embedded cameras linked to physiological and observational measurements (heart beat, skin conductance, pupil size, facial expressions, eye-contact). This multi-method approach, allowed us to track couple’s visible expressions throughout the dynamic interaction and measure the strength of physiological synchronization as couples reacted to each other. First of all, we found that females are more expressive than males; they smiled, laughed and made hand gestures with higher frequency and duration than males did. Males, on the other hand, looked into female’s eyes, face, and body with higher frequency and duration than females fixated at them. We further found that visible signals (such as expressions or gaze), which can be controlled, were not good predictors of couple’s mutual attraction. Instead, we show that mutual attraction increased with the strength of physiological synchrony, which is unconscious and difficult to regulate. We conclude that this multi-method approach in a natural context provides a promising avenue to study physiological synchrony, which, as a measure of emotional contagion, could be applied in couple’s therapy and other clinical settings.