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Measuring emotions in an intergroup context and beyond. Dr Roger Giner-Sorolla Department of Psychology. Presentation given at the Research Methods Festival, July 2008, Oxford, UK. Emotion research is interdisciplinary.

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Measuring emotions in an intergroup context and beyond

Measuring emotions in an intergroup context and beyond

Dr Roger Giner-Sorolla

Department of Psychology

Presentation given at the Research Methods Festival, July 2008, Oxford, UK


Emotion research is interdisciplinary

Emotion research is interdisciplinary

  • ISRE organization has members from psychology, sociology, anthropology, humanities, history …

  • “Affective revolutions” in economics, computing, law, art education …

  • Emotions are interesting and important


Only one small question

Only one small question

What is an emotion?


Emotion is a language culture category wierzbicka

“Emotion” is a language/culture category (Wierzbicka)

Other cultures (e.g., Ifaluk, studied by Lutz) divide mental phenomena in different ways

Even across the Channel … “emotion” vs. “sentiment” not observed in English


How does western english speaking culture characterize emotion

How does Western English-speaking culture characterize emotion?

Depends … lay or scientific definition?

Compact OED

Emotion • noun1 a strong feeling, such as joy or anger. 2 instinctive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge.

Psychology: over 50 definitions of emotion …


What is a cat

What is a cat?

4 legs,

has fur,

has tail …


What is an emotion

What is an emotion?

  • Like a cat, different modules or traits

  • Unlike a cat, no scientific consensus on which is the defining set of traits


What is not an emotion

What is not an emotion?

  • Even here there is controversy between lay and different scientific definitions


Emotion vs attitude evaluation

Emotion vs. attitude/evaluation

  • Emotions have specificity beyond positive or negative valence (fear vs. shame vs. anger vs. sadness)


Emotion vs mood

Emotion vs. mood

  • One scientific view: Emotions are responses to specific situations, unlike moods which are diffuse

  • BUT: Emotional feelings are not always identified with their source; can have carry-over effects; can be associated with objects (even irrationally)


Emotion vs belief

Emotion vs. belief

  • Emotions are not propositional, although they can be expressed in propositional language – “I am angry”; “This place is disgusting”

  • Beliefs can influence emotions (appraisal view); emotions can also influence beliefs (e.g. intuitive prosecutor research)


Emotion vs motivation

Emotion vs. motivation

  • View 1: Emotion is motivation

    Emotion -> behaviour

    (Lazarus; Scherer; Frijda’s action tendencies)

  • View 2: Emotion is a report on motivation

    Motive -> Behaviour -> success/failure -> emotion

    (Buck; Carver & Scheier)


Specific emotion vs core affect

Specific emotion vs. core affect

Russell & Barrett’s model

Is everything else besides core affect just language?


What is an emotion traits

What is an emotion? Traits

  • Feelings: subjective experience

    Impossible to measure directly

  • Language: terms describing subjective experience (or the other things below!)

  • Emotion concepts (tied to language or not?)

  • Facial expressions

  • Physiological changes: central nervous system, peripheral nervous system

  • Effects on thought, judgment, behaviour

  • Dependency on perception, interpretation of environment


Methods of emotion measurement

Methods of emotion measurement

  • Verbal self-report

  • Pictorial self-report

  • Interjections?

  • Facial expression coding

  • Physiological measures

  • Neurological measures

  • Implicit measures


Methods of emotion manipulation

Methods of emotion manipulation

  • Imagined scenarios

  • Recalled scenarios

  • Emotion priming: words, faces…

  • Environmental aspects

  • Social induction

  • Social contagion

  • Physiological induction


Pitfalls of emotion measurement and manipulation

Pitfalls of emotion measurement and manipulation

  • Language and emotion terms

  • Ambiguities in physiology

  • Context and referents

  • Emotion concept vs. emotion feeling

  • Emotion experience vs. emotion communication

  • Confounds in emotion manipulation

  • Limits of emotion manipulation


Traps of language

Traps of language

  • Specific languages

    • English: “anger”; “disgust”

  • Implicit assumptions in language

    • English: “irritable”; “disgusting”


Intergroup emotions an example

Intergroup emotions: an example

  • Anger, fear, and action tendencies


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