Emotion in Social Relations: Cultural, Group, and Interpersonal Processes

Synopsis

Within psychology, emotion is often treated as something private and personal. In contrast, this book tries to understand emotion from the 'outside' by examining the everyday social settings in which it operates. Three levels of social influence are considered in decreasing order of inclusiveness, starting with the surrounding culture and subculture, moving on to the more delimited organization or group, and finally focusing on the interpersonal setting. At all these levels, emotion is influenced by social factors and has an impact on the way social life proceeds. For example, there are no direct equivalents in many cultures for some of the particular forms of emotion experienced in Western societies, suggesting that not all aspects of emotion are universal or biologically determined. Further, our various social identifications and allegiances partly determine what is emotionally relevant in a situation and how we respond to ingroup and outgroup members' emotions. Finally, emotions are usually occasioned by things that other people say, do, or have done to them, and often change the way interaction with those others proceeds. The book provides a critical review of existing theory and research on these topics from a social psychological perspective, and develops its own distinctive approach by recontextualising emotion in an integrated cultural, organisational and relational world.