Experimental research is presented that examined how women and men expressing congruent emotions - happy-for (pleasure at another’s good fortune) or sympathy (pain at another’s bad fortune) - or incongruent emotions - schadenfreude (pleasure at another’s bad fortune) or gluckschmerz (pain at another’s good fortune) are evaluated by (female and male) observers of these expressions on warmth, competence, and morality.
This work proposes a new theoretical model, according to which there are two independent and orthogonal dimensions of interpersonal similarity: (1) based on shared traits (henceforth, Identity-Based Similarity), and (2) based on shared experiences (henceforth, Experienced-Based Similarity), with each type of similarity arousing empathy independently, but with the two types of similarity potentially coexisting simultaneously, thereby intensifying the level of experienced empathy. The proposed model was tested in five studies which examined the existence of each type of similarity as well as their independent and joint impact on the arousal of empathic responses towards others. Study 1 found that the number of shared experiences significantly predicts the degree of perceived self-other overlap. Study 2 found that participants who shared an experience with another showed greater empathy towards him, even when the other's distress was caused by a different, unshared experience. Study 3 replicated Study 2 and provided support for the notion that perceived similarity of one's experiences with those of another arouses feelings of psychological connectedness with the other, and consequently, elicits empathic responses and attempts to assist the other in a future situation of distress. Studies 4&5, examined the joint impact of the two types of similarity (identity/experience based) on the arousal of empathic responses and willingness to help the similar other. These studies provide support for the proposed model and demonstrate that both experience-based similarity and identity-based similarity jointly shape the way in which individuals relate to others and in particular their behavior in the empathic domain.
The study of empathy as an emotion has advanced in recent years. Psychologists, sociologists and other researchers have moved the field forward, by examining a set of emotional dynamics that clarify how empathy works. While the literature generally posits that empathy behavior can have social benefits, some have questioned the morality of empathy based on its emotional nature. In particular, Paul Bloom (2016) separates “cognitive empathy” and “emotional empathy,” condemning the morality of the latter behavior. By contrast, recent sociological literature on empathy does not morally condemn empathy. Instead, it explores empathy from a social perspective emphasizing the cultural and interactional components of “empathy work,” a social behavior defined by people engaged in social interaction. Drawing on the sociological discussion of the three social forms of empathy, namely, the transcendental, the therapeutic, and the instrumental (Ruiz-Junco 2017), this paper examines further the connection between these empathy types and specific emotion-based processes. By doing so, this paper clarifies the constitutive link between the cognitive and the emotional aspects of empathy work in everyday life.
Trust is an important precursor in the development of cooperation. But how can we tell whether someone can be trusted? Recent studies have shown that emotional expressions provide important information in trust-related contexts about one’s feelings and intentions. The current research focused on whether or not the positive emotion pride signals trustworthiness. Although many studies have investigated the social functions of pride, no research to date has compared different types of pride based on the target of the emotion. In the current research we distinguish between self-focused and group-focused pride, and argue that expressions of self-focused pride elicit less trust than expressions of group-focused pride. In two studies, participants first performed a cooperation task with a simulated partner, after which they received a reaction from their partner, either containing expressions of self-focused (I’m proud of myself) or group-focused pride (I’m proud of us). Subsequently they played a 2-person trust game. Study 1 showed that participants trusted partners who expressed self-focused pride less, than partners who expressed group-focused pride. Study 2 showed that these effects were moderated by performance on the cooperative task. Self-focused pride elicited less trust than group-focused pride, but only when both players performed equally well on the cooperative task. When the partner performed better, they were trusted regardless of whether self- or group-focused pride was communicated. Our findings support the notion that in trust-related contexts emotions convey crucial information and that for the social functions of pride it is important to consider the target of the emotion.
In social decision-making, communicated emotions provide important information about people’s motives and intentions, which shape social appraisals and inform interpersonal behavior. Indeed research shows that expressions communicating cooperative intentions lead to higher levels of interpersonal trust and cooperation. But how does the informational value of communicated emotions change when people regulate their expressions? In social dilemmas people may be motivated to regulate their emotion expressions strategically in order to elicit cooperation. Extant research provides preliminary evidence that regulated expressions diminish interpersonal trust and moderate the impact of the emotion on decision-making. Here, we investigated the impact of actual and perceived emotion regulation on interpersonal trust and cooperation. Using a two-player computer-mediated multi-round social-dilemma task coupled with video-cued recall we examined participants’ use of emotion regulation and their perceptions of partner’s regulation and associated effects on cooperation. Forty-seven participant pairs completed 10 rounds of a prisoner’s dilemma task where they could see each other’s facial expressions via a live video feed. After the task participants reviewed and rated expression regulation for both their own and their partners video. Findings show that participants report regulating their expressions and also perceived that their partners regulated their expressions, although to a lesser extent. Further, this perceived regulation impacted cooperation. Specifically, regulation of negative expressions led to lower levels of cooperation. Overall, the results indicate that people engage in expression regulation in social-dilemma tasks. In addition, perceived regulation changes the informational value of expressions and has a negative effect on trust and cooperation.