Chapter 7: Communication and Emotion

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Chapter 7: Communication and Emotion

Chapter Goals

  • Understand the intricacies of emotion.

  • Identify the relationships among emotion, reason, and the body.

  • Distinguish between two theories of emotion.

  • Explain how emotion is communicated.

  • Recognize the negative and positive aspects associated with emotional communication.

  • Employ skills for emotional communication to increase satisfaction in interpersonal interactions.


I. Defining Emotion: More Than Just a Feeling

A. In your text, emotion is defined as the critical internal structure that orients us and engages us with what matters in our lives: our feelings about ourselves and others.

B. The valence dimension of emotion is how intense the feeling is and whether it reflects a positive or negative feeling.

C. Two category systems for emotion:

1. One category system (Russell, 1978,1980, 1983) categorizes emotion along two dimensions: positive-negative and active-passive.

2. A second way to classify individual emotions is based on its intensity.

D. Emotion, reason, and the body

II. Explaining Emotion: Biology and Social Interaction

A. The Biological Theory of Emotion

B. The Social Interaction Theory of Emotion

III. Emotion and Communication

A. Metaphors for Emotion

B. How Emotion is Communicated

1. emotional experience

2. emotional communication

3. communicating emotionally

C. How emotion is communicated

1. nonverbal cues

2. verbal cues

3. combination of cues

IV. Influences on Emotional Communication

A. Meta-emotion

B. Culture

1. cultures and thinking about emotion

2. how emotion is communicated across cultures

C. Gender and Sex

1. emotion and gender stereotypes

2. emotional expression and gender

D. Context

1. historical period

2. online communication

V. The Dark Side of Emotional Communication

A. hurtful and/or unpleasant emotions

B. Schadenfreude – a German word that, loosely translated, means to take pleasure in another’s misfortune.

VI. The Bright Side of Emotional Communication: Happy Talk

A. Communication that offers comfort, social support, warmth, affection, forgiveness, or desire falls on the positive end of the emotional spectrum.

B. Often there is a mixture of bright and dark emotions.

VII. Choices for Developing Emotional Communication Skills

A. Know your feelings.

1. recognizing your emotion

2. establishing that you are stating an emotion

B. Analyze the situation

C. Own your feelings

D. Reframe when needed

E. Empathize.
Terms for Review
active listening


communicating emotionally




emotion work

emotional communication

emotional contagion


feeling rules






Student Activities
1. Directions: Read the following phrases that are commonly used metaphors for emotional states in our culture. Rewrite the statement so that someone not familiar with our culture would understand the sentiment.

  1. Sue was burning up!_______________________________________________________

  1. Grace was walking on air. __________________________________________________

  1. I wanted to crawl under a rock. ______________________________________________

  1. Joe was ready to spit nails.__________________________________________________

  1. My head was swimming. __________________________________________________

  1. I could eat a horse!_______________________________________________________

2. Directions: Replace the underlined words with synonyms.

  1. Danielle was brave. ______________________

  1. Suresh was upset. _______________________

  1. Clare felt happy. _______________________

  1. Paul felt anxious. _______________________

  1. Giancarlo was scared. ____________________

  1. Brian was excited. _______________________

  1. Nancy felt blue. _________________________

  1. Kate felt bored. __________________________

3. Directions: Make a list of people in your life that fit the following roles. Next to their names write the first feeling you think of when you think about this person.
Parent ________________________ _______________________________
Sibling ________________________ _______________________________
Roommate _____________________ _______________________________
Neighbor ______________________ _______________________________
Professor_______________________ ______________________________
Partner ________________________ ______________________________
Do you always feel the same way about each person? Go back and think about how you would feel if he or she did something you didn’t like. What if the person gave you a gift for no reason? What if you couldn’t see the person for a year? What if you had to spend three weeks with the person every minute you were awake? How might your feelings change? Would they be any more or less authentic? How would your communication change based on your feelings changing? Talk about your results with another student from class.

4. Directions: Take turns with a classmate and try to convey one of the emotions listed below by using only the words green bean.

excited embarrassed afraid

disappointed surprised anxious
silly flirtatious distraught

5. Directions: Read the following sentences aloud and change their meaning as many times as possible by changing the emotion you evoke. For example the phrase “that’s naughty” can imply flirtation, anger, or happiness.
You’re in trouble.
We’ll have a good time.
That’s excellent.
I think it’s bad.
Where were you?

Interactive Activities

7.1: Emotion Cone

For another look at Plutchnik’s emotion cone, check out’s site “The Plutchnik Model of Emotions.”

Notice how the emotions begin to combine with one another as they become secondary or tertiary emotions. According to this site, emotions are used to describe experiences from consumers’ use of products or services. How could this information assist companies in product development and advertising?

Summary: investigates how consumer emotion affects behavior, using Plutchnik’s emotional cone and the various dimensions of emotions.

7.2: Emotions, Body, and the Mind

Ever think about the difference between a feeling and an emotion? This website describes the distinction between the two and discusses the relationship that links emotion, body, feeling, and mind.

Read Damasio’s definitions of emotion and feeling.

  1. How are emotions and feelings different?

  1. Using what you learned about perception in Chapter 2 in your textbook, how does perception play a role in emotion?

  1. Apply the following process to an experience you have had.

  • External stimulus triggers the brain.

  • Emotion is created and spreads through body.

  • The mind experiences a feeling based on the change in the body.

Summary: This website from the Russian Information Network discusses neurobiologist Antonio Damasio and his theories of emotion and feeling. Damasio has an interesting take on the difference between emotion and feeling, and describes the process of emotion and feeling.

7.3: Feeling Emotion

This site discusses the scientific link between emotion and the body, discussing the work of neurobiologist Antonio Damasio.

  1. How do you feel in an emotionally charged situation?

  1. Name a positive emotional experience you’ve had and describe how it made you feel physically.

  1. Now name a negative emotional experience you’ve had and how it made you feel.

  1. How are these feelings similar or different?

Summary: The article “Emotion in the Body Mapped by the Mind,” featured on the ABC Online website, cites a study by neurobiologist Antonio Damasio on the changes we experience in the brain and body when we recall emotional experiences.

7.4: Models of Emotion

Emotion is a subject of research for many academics, including those who study music. This website from the Ohio State University School of Music presents six models of emotions.

How do the biological and social models of emotion discussed in Chapter 4 of your textbook compare to the models diagrammed on this site? What are the similarities and differences between them?

Summary: This website from the Ohio State University School of Music diagrams and explains six different models of emotion.

7.5: Expression of Emotion

How skilled are you in reading the emotions of others? The website Espire: Your Guide to Emotions discusses emotional communication via body language.

  1. What nonverbal emotional cues are most obvious to you when you’re communicating with someone? Facial expressions, voice, or language?

  1. Create a list of five or six common emotions. With a partner and using only facial expressions, attempt to display the emotions on your list and see if your partner correctly guesses the emotion.

  1. Was your partner correct? What emotions were easier and more difficult to display?

Summary: The website Espire: Your Guide to Emotions thoroughly discusses the nature of emotion, types of emotion, influences on emotion, and the display of emotion in a fun and interactive format.

InfoTrac College Edition Activities

7.1: Gender, Emotion, and Stereotypes

“Speaking from the Heart: Gender and the Social Meaning of Emotion” by Kent Sandstrom

The American Journal of Sociology, May 2003

As you read in Chapter 4 of your textbook, Professor Stephanie Shields, Penn State University, argues that emotional expression defines the essence of masculinity and femininity. For more information on Stephanie Shields’s work, check out the book review of Speaking from the Heart: Gender and the Social Meaning of Emotion. Shields uses the term “manly emotion” and “emotional double binds.”

  1. Do you believe that men and women are sometimes expected to act in ways that are consistent with emotional stereotypes?

  1. Name a male emotional stereotype and think of a situation in which you think a man is expected to adhere to that stereotype.

  1. Now think of a female emotional stereotype and think of a situation in which a woman is expected to adhere to that stereotype.

  1. In class, discuss whether you think stereotypes are accurate and whether, socially, we are expected to follow a pattern of behavior consistent with stereotypes.

Summary: This review of the book Speaking from the Heart: Gender and the Social Meaning of Emotion closely examines the contents of each chapter. If you’re interested in gender and emotion, you might want to read the book in its entirety.

7.2: Gender, Emotion, and Context

“Gender-Emotion Stereotypes Are Context Specific” Janice R. Kelly and Sarah L. Hutson-Comeaux

Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, January 1999

How accurate are stereotypes regarding gender and emotion? Read this article on gender-emotion stereotypes, “Gender-Emotion Stereotypes Are Context Specific,” and find out if the stereotypes are correct.

  1. What do you think this study’s researchers mean by “interpersonal context” and “achievement context”?

  1. The researchers also use the terms “overreaction” and “underreaction.” Based on your experiences, do you believe men and women reinforce stereotypes, or do you feel that context is a factor for both, regardless of gender?

  1. Discuss questions 1 and 2 with your classmates.

Summary: This article suggests that gender-emotion stereotypes are actually context specific.

7.3: Emotional Skills at Work

“Your Emotional Skills Can Make or Break You” by Steve Bates

Nation’s Business, April 1999

Are you emotionally competent? According to this article, “Your Emotional Skills Can Make or Break You,” “emotional competencies are twice as important as IQ and job-specific skills in determining the success of business people.”

  1. What does emotional competence mean to you?

  1. Make a list of what emotions you believe are appropriate and inappropriate in the workplace.

  1. Are these emotions similar or different from the emotions appropriate and inappropriate at school? In what way?

Summary: This article stresses the importance of emotional competencies in the workplace, suggests that emotional skills can be even more important than job skills, and offers strategies for the emotional development of employees.

Your Turn Journal Activity

In your journal, reflect upon the dark and bright sides of emotions and emotional communication. Which side do you experience most when you undergo emotional arousal? Does one side predominate when you talk about your emotions or when you communicate emotionally? How are the dark and light sides combined in an emotional situation? Does your answer vary depend on the type of emotion you are experiencing or communicating? Explain using examples.


True or False

1. In the text, the term emotion encompasses both the internal feelings of one person and feelings that can be experienced only in a relationship. (p. 221)

True or False

2. Most people experience more than one emotion at a time. (p. 221)

True or False

3. Dualism refers to a way of thinking that means two things cannot coexist. (p. 223)

True or False

4. Charles Darwin believed that emotion is mainly biological. (p. 226)

True or False

5. Proponents of the social model of emotion believe emotions only surface in social situations. (p. 228)

True or False

6. Communicating emotionally means that the emotion itself is not the content of the message but rather a property of it. (p. 229)

True or False

7. People often use a combination of cues when communicating emotion. (p. 233)

True or False

8. Emotional openness is valued in individualistic cultures, so people are more expressive of negative emotions in those cultures. (p.234)

True or False

9.According to Shields (2000), emotional expression (or lack of it) defines the essence of femininity and masculinity. (p. 236)

True or False

10. According to Hall et al (2000), men are more accurate in figuring out what others’ emotional states are based on nonverbal cues. (p. 238)

True or False

11. Cultural norms used to create and react to emotional expressions are called feeling rules. (p. 239)

True or False

12. Empathy is a recommended practice for becoming an effective communicator. (p. 241)

True or False

Multiple Choice Questions

1. Which of the following contexts is not examined in relation to emotion in your text? (p. 239)

A. online communication
B. historical period
C. intimate relationships
D. others’ feelings

2. Paige’s colleague, Julia, got an undeserved bonus because their boss believed that Julia was responsible for a big new account brought in, when in fact the account was actually brought in by Paige. Julia accepted the bonus without mentioning Paige’s hard work. When another colleague reported this to Paige during an important lunch meeting with the new clients (and Julia had embarrassed herself because she was unfamiliar with the new client’s product), Paige’s happiness at Julia’s misfortune could best be described as: (p. 241)

A. schadenfreude
B. schema
C. shortcoming
D. schaffoldin

3. Competence in emotional communication begins with your ability to identify the emotion or mix of emotions you are experiencing at a particular time. This skill requires you to do all of the following EXCEPT: (p. 246)

A. recognize the emotions you’re feeling
B. establish that you are stating an emotion
C. create a statement that identifies why you are experiencing the emotion
D. share the statement with a trusted friend

4. Lately, Tara had been spending hours and hours playing a computer game and Rhett had not seen her for over two weeks. The best way that Rhett believed he could express his feelings to Tara would be by owning them as in which of the following examples? (p. 251)

A. “Tara, I hate it when you play on the computer and ignore me.”
B. “I want you to spend more time with me and less time on the computer playing games.”
C. “I feel frustrated and lonely when you spend so much time on the computer, and I would like to spend more of our free time together.”
D. “You’re being selfish by spending so much of our free time alone on the computer.”

5. Sally often felt herself getting irritated when she had to wait in line at a store to check out. Instead of being impatient because of what she considered other peoples’ incompetence, she decided to rethink these situations and respect herself for being patient and more polite. This is an example of: (p. 252)

A. surrendering
B. reframing
C. regressing
D. suspension

6. Which of the following calls for you to suspend your own responses for a while so you can concentrate on the other person? (p. 253)

A. active listening
B. surrendering
C. empathic listening
D. suspension

7. The following pairs of words are all common dualisms in Western thought EXCEPT: (p. 225)

A. public – private
B. mind – intellect
C. right – wrong
D. good – bad

8. Indirect cues are used to communicate emotionally, often resulting in confusion. Which of the following would NOT be considered indirect? (p. 232)

A. When Savannah showed up an hour late to her cousin’s birthday party, her friend Derrick said, “Nice of you to show up.”
B. When Todd gave Sonya a single piece of chocolate candy for her birthday, Sonya said, “Wow, you must really love me.”
C. Joey, who is a freshman, asked Lucy, who is a graduate student, if she’d like to go out some time. Lucy said, “I’m flattered, but no thank you.”
D. Sherry told Lisa she had finished cleaning the kitchen, although there were still dishes in the sink. Sherry asked, “Is this where we’re keeping the dishes now?”

9. Which scenario would fit someone who is from a collectivistic culture the LEAST? (p. 254)

A. Jong-wah, who is from Korea, was feeling angry that he did so poorly on the midterm for which he had studied so hard. When his friend asked him how he did, he smiled and said, “Fine, thank you.”
B. Saroya, who is from India, was feeling angry because her car had been broken into and her backpack was stolen. When her friend remarked that she must be really mad, Saroya replied, “Maybe the thief needed it more than I do.”
C. Akiko, who is from Japan, was very upset when she got a letter from the college saying her scholarship would soon be running out. When her advisor asked how she was feeling about this, Akiko said, “I will work harder.”
D. Ren-Li, who is from China, thought she lost her favorite bracelet until a friend told her she saw another student wearing it. Ren-Li said, “I’m so mad! I’m going to make her give it back.”

10. Which of the following statements is NOT true? (p. 239)

A. The feeling rules of U.S. culture have not changed much over time.
B. Emoticons are used to compensate for the lack of cues in CMC.
C. Before giving a speech, you’re likely to feel more nervous around others who have to give a speech.
D. When you come home from school in a bad mood and your roommates are laughing and having fun, you might begin to feel better.

11. An attribute of emotion that refers to whether the emotion reflects a positive or negative feeling is a: (p. 222)

A. valence
B. balance
C. scale
D. range

12. This prompts us to think about things in an “either-or” fashion: (p. 223)

A. dichotomy
B. dilemma
C. dualism
D. doubt

13. Jaden’s favorite show was Dancing with the Stars and watching it each week made her very happy. Her roommate, Ruby, didn’t really care for the show but seeing how happy watching it made Jaden, she couldn’t help but feel good even after a bad day. This is an example of (p. 229)

A. friendship
B. emotional witness
C. emotional contagion
D. emotional flipping

14. Jocelyn always seemed to be in a good mood. She always appeared so joyful that being around her made everyone feel better. This is an example of: (p. 229)

A. friendship
B. emotional witness
C. emotional contagion
D. emotional flipping

15. A message phrased to show we understand that our feelings belong to us and aren’t caused by someone else is which of the following? (p.251)

A. owning
B. I-message
C. self-awareness
D. Own-awareness

Essay Questions

1. Explain what is meant by schadenfreude and give an example of a time when you experienced it.

2. Briefly highlight the two models of emotion and tell which model you agree with more and why.

3. Think of a time when you experienced multileveled emotions (maybe leaving childhood friends and family and going to college, for example). Discuss some of the different emotions you experienced that might have seemed contradictory at the time.

4. Discuss some of the gender stereotypes mentioned in your text. Do you agree with them? Explain why or why not using examples.

5. Write about a time when you tried to convey something online to a friend who misunderstood you. Do you think the same thing would have happened if you were communicating face to face? Why or why not?

Answers to Quiz

True of False
1. True

2. True

3. False

4. True

5. False

6. True

7. True

8. True

9. True

10. False

11. True

12. True

Multiple Choice Questions

    1. C

    2. A

    3. D

    4. C

    5. B

    6. A

    7. B

    8. C

    9. D

    10. A

    11. A

    12. C

    13. C

    14. C

    15. B

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