When people say that a mob is angry, an audience is enthusiastic, or a nation is grieving, what exactly do they mean? Is it just that each separate person is experiencing the same emotion at the same time or is it something more? And even if group emotions are simply collections of individual experiences, does it make a difference that people are having those experiences together?
On the surface, the notion that groups can “have” emotions seems paradoxical. Common sense and emotion theory both share the assumption that emotions are things that happen to individuals. What, then, is a “group emotion?” In this chapter, we shall use this term to refer to the fact that group membership can influence the ways in which people experience and express emotions. This influence manifests itself in the form of similarities in group members' emotional experiences or behaviors, similarities that would not be exhibited if the individuals concerned did not belong to the same group.
Several possible reasons exist for intragroup similarities of this kind. First, group members are more likely than randomly assembled sets of people to be exposed to the same kinds of emotional objects and events. Second, group members often interact directly with other group members and thereby exert mutual influences on each other's appraisals, emotions, and expressions. Third, group members are likely to share certain norms and values, and these will in turn promote similarities in the ways that