On the Same Wavelength: Shared Emotions as Information for Social Evaluation

Shaked, Adi, Psychology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Clore, Gerald, Psychology, University of Virginia

Recent history has been fraught with tragedies that brought people together like the events of September 11th and events that have torn people apart like the Clinton v. Trump Election. These are powerful, salient examples of the bonding or disconnect that occurs any time two people encounter a common emotional event. Based on a theory we propose here called Affective Wavelengths, we hypothesize that shared experiences are a means through which the human mind evaluates and prioritizes social partners. When others’ emotional reactions make sense in light of one’s own, people are drawn closer together. Baffling responses increase feelings of distance. In an experiment where anxiety was induced in 65 undergraduate women through electric shock, participants felt closer to a confederate when she was anxious than when she was calm. The cause of the confederate’s anxiety, which was shock or an upcoming speech, had no effect on participants’ bond with the confederate.

MA (Master of Arts)
Psychology, Emotion, Attitude, Social Evolution
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