Motivation and emotion/Book/2019/Social affective sharing and emotion regulation

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Social affective sharing and emotion regulation:
What is social affective sharing and how can it be used to regulate emotion?

Overview[edit | edit source]

This chapter will look in depth at what social affective sharing is, as well as how it can be used to regulate emotion.

Focus questions

What is social affective sharing?
What is emotional regulation?
How does social affective sharing influence emotional regulation?

Social affective sharing[edit | edit source]

Social affective sharing and the motives behind the phenomenon will be explained using case studies and examples.

Figure 2. Studies have revealed that people going through emotional experiences immediately tell other significant people in their life (Duprez et al., 2015)

What is social affective sharing?[edit | edit source]

Social affective sharing also known as social sharing of emotion is a phenomenon in the field of psychology that concerns the tendency to recount and share emotional experiences with others. According to Rime, Mesquita, Philippot & Boca, it is a communication process that involves describing emotions in a socially shared language by the person who experienced it to another one (as cited in Duprez, Christophe, Rime, Congard & Antoine, 2015).

For example, a car collision occurs and the driver becomes unconscious after the accident. Witnesses gather around the incident and begin talking between each other about what transpired. This scenario depicts the need for people to share and talk about the emotional experience. The social affective sharing occurs in conversation when individuals communicate openly with one or more people regarding the circumstances of the emotion eliciting event and, about their own feelings and emotional reactions (Rimé, 2009). From an intrapersonal perspective, people share their emotion through verbalisation of emotions to relieve the negative impacts of an emotional event (Zech, Rimé & Nils, 2004).

Motives for social affective sharing[edit | edit source]

In 2015, a study explored and identified the motives for social affective sharing. Table 1 summarises the list of motives identified in the study. The frequently observed answer from the data was "venting" which is consistent with the common belief that discussing an emotional experience will decrease or eliminate its emotional load (as cited in Duprez et al., 2015). Several issues identified in this study include motives can be easily distinguished but some might be difficult to bring out to awareness, some motives might fail to be recalled and some might be completely not accessible to the mind. Additionally, some motives may intentionally not be reported because of social desirability concerns or just because there are motives that are beyond reach to the mind (Duprez et al., 2015).

Table 1. List of motives found in the Rime (2007) study
Social affective sharing motives Typical items
  • re-experiencing the moment
  • remembering what occurred
  • giving significance to the event
  • letting off steam
  • letting go of a burden
  • externalising emotions
Assistance, support and comfort
  • being comforted
  • receiving support
  • being helped
Clarification and meaning
  • having a better understanding of what occurred
  • analysing what occurred
  • putting what occurred into perspective
Advice and solutions
  • receiving advice
  • receiving suggestions
  • hearing an outside perspective
  • strengthening social bonds
  • feeling the other's presence
  • escaping from loneliness
Arousing empathy and gaining attention
  • touching him/her
  • arousing empathy
  • sharing experience
Informing and/or warning
  • informing him/her
  • warning others
  • informing about what occurred

When is the social affective sharing eluded?[edit | edit source]

Rimé (2009) identified three types of circumstances when social affective sharing is avoided.

Fig 3. Three types of circumstances were identified in a study that restrain social affective sharing. These are experiencing shame and guilt, traumatic emotions and social constraints (Rimé, 2009).

Shame and guilt[edit | edit source]

People who experience shame and guilt tend to avoid exposing themselves and telling their experiences to others[factual?]. Shame and guilt play an important role in controlling social affective sharing. Two studies investigating emotional experiences on people revealed that non-shared emotional episodes elicited more intense feelings of shame and guilt than shared (Rimé, 2009). Furthermore, emotional appraisal ratings found that emotional experiences that were kept secret involve greater personal responsibility (Rimé, 2009). Lastly, they found that non-shared experiences were initially associated with attempts to hide feelings or emotions, a tendency typical of shamed persons (Rimé, 2009).

[for example?]

Extreme intensity and traumatic emotions[edit | edit source]

The idea of trauma such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD suggests that the cues associated with traumatic experience elicit avoidance which most likely will interfere the behaviour of sharing emotions. Findings in several studies suggest that traumatic emotions are often shared and about 80% of trauma victims exhibit the need to share their experience (Rimé, 2009). However, a different study revealed that the frequency of sharing experience was a linear function of the intensity of PTSD symptomatology (Rimé, 2009). When participants diagnosed with PTSD were investigated about sharing emotions and experience, they found that they had never shared neither want to share. Which concludes that people who are highly affected by traumatic event share emotions as frequent as those who were less affected (Rimé, 2009).

Social constraints[edit | edit source]

Limiting or denying self the social sharing of emotion for protection. This happens when the episode to be shared involves components that can cause harm to listeners. Studies of responses to collective trauma found enhanced levels of social sharing and manifestation of solidarity in the affected community (Rimé, 2009). However, it drastically dropped after two months from the traumatic event and people who are still motivated to share their experience find themselves rejected (Rimé, 2009).

Social affective sharing[edit | edit source]

Rimé proposed two types of sharing modes, the cognitive and socio-affective mode.

Cognitive mode[edit | edit source]

The cognitive mode occurs when the social sharing involves cognitive work in terms of reframing or reappraising the emotional event (Brans, Mechelen, Rimé & Verduyn, 2013). The mode helps share progress towards emotional recovery (Bucich & MacCann, 2018) as well as reducing the impact of the episode's memory (Duprez et al., 2015) by favoring the process of the emotional experience.

Socio-affective mode[edit | edit source]

The socio-affective mode suggests that listener provides social responses that involves support, comfort, validation, empathy and the like to the sharer (Brans et al., 2013). This mode bring temporary alleviation and feeling of relief (Duprez et al., 2015).

Two-mode theory of social sharing suggests that socio-affective sharing is helpful in the early stages of an emotional event because it leads to a condition of temporary alleviation. However, it does not provide emotional recovery. It is required to cognitive share in order to attain emotional recovery (Brans et al., 2013). This suggestion was supported by several studies including the [which?] study about the relationship between social sharing and emotional experience. What they found is that socio-affective sharing was frequent to natural sharing situations and is strongly associated with emotional relief (Brans et al., 2013). Unfortunately, there was no evidence found that cognitive sharing facilitate emotional recovery (Brans et al., 2013). However, this is due from the fact that there was a lack of emotional recovery observed in the study and many studies still predict that cognitive sharing influences emotional recovery.

Theory of inhibition[edit | edit source]

Theory of inhibition is based on the basic assumption that during the performance of any mental task requiring a minimum of mental effort, the subject actually goes through a series of alternating latent states of distraction (non-work 0) and attention (work 1) which cannot be observed and are completely imperceptible to the subject. This theory states that physiological efforts are required to inhibit thoughts, emotions, or actions, and as a result, chronic inhibition of emotions can produce stress-related physical and psychological problems (McCance, Nye, Wang, Jones & Chiu, 2010). A research investigating the role of social sharing reveals that physical and subjective well-being is negatively associated with emotional secrecy and positively associated with sharing of emotion (McCance et al., 2010). The more subjectively intense and disruptive the emotional experience, the more often people engage in social affective sharing (McCance et al., 2010). This means that engaging in social sharing can help alleviate the negative impact of an emotional and stressful event. Sharing emotions allows for venting negative emotions which should have a positive effect on health as the theory of inhibition suggest (McCance et al., 2010).

Emotional regulation[edit | edit source]

Emotional regulation refers to efforts to control emotional states (as cited in Burton, Westen Kowalski, 2015). "Emotion regulation" is a term generally used to describe a person’s ability to effectively manage and respond to an emotional experience. People unconsciously use emotion regulation strategies to cope with difficult situations many times throughout each day. Most of us use a variety of emotion regulation strategies and are able to apply them to different situations in order to adapt to the demands of our environment.

Emotion regulation theory[edit | edit source]

Figure 3. According to Rimé, about 88% to 96% of emotional experiences were socially shared to others in some way.

The most influential theory regarding the dynamics of affect regulation is the process model of emotion regulation. Affect generation involves four processes which are linked to specific emotional regulation strategies and they appear in a consequential order (Guiller, Dauvier, Pavani, Chakri & Congard, 2019).

  1. Situation - emotionally relevant situation which can either be real or imagined.
  2. Attention - the emotional situation attracts individual attention
  3. Appraisal - evaluating and interpreting emotional situation.
  4. Response - an emotional response is generated, giving rise to loosely coordinated changes in experiential, behavioral, and physiological response systems.

In a workplace setting where stressful work events are frequent, workers can use regulation strategies to avoid and cope with unwanted emotional experience (Hadley, 2014). Furthermore, regulation strategies can also be used to extend and assimilate the good feelings that have emerged (Hadley, 2014). One common way to regulate emotions is to talk to about the emotional experience to others. Social affective sharing expresses occurrences when a person communicates his or her personal experience of an emotional event (Hadley, 2014).

Emotional regulation strategies[edit | edit source]

There are five emotional regulation strategies that can be utilised in an effort to control emotion states (SOURCE) as depicted in figure 4.

Figure 4. Process model of emotion regulation

Situation selection[edit | edit source]

The earliest opportunity to intervention to influence the trajectory of an emotional experience is situation selection. It is taking action to make one emotional experience more or less likely. Sometimes, situation selection is a strategic effort to prevent an emotion from launching.

Situation modification[edit | edit source]

Situation modification essentially involves problem-focused coping , efforts to establish primary control over a situation and the search for social support (as cited in Reeve, 2015). Sometimes, situations are modified by simply leaving them (as cited in Reeve, 2015).

Attentional focus[edit | edit source]

Changing one's attentional focus does not change the situation but, rather, redirects one's attention within the situation.

Reappraisal[edit | edit source]

Reappraisal is defined as "changing the way an individual thinks about a potentially emotion-eliciting situation in order to modify its emotional impact"[factual?]. Reappraisal involves changing a situation's meaning.

Suppression[edit | edit source]

Suppression is used to modify an already occurring emotional experience, including any or all of its components of feeling, bodily activation, sense of purpose, or expression. It is a strategy to down-regulate one or more of these four aspects of emotion, such as to lessen a feeling or bodily activation, as by taking a deep breath or trying to inhibit a facial expression.

Quiz[edit | edit source]

Social affective regulation and emotional regulation

Which of the following is not a motive for social affective sharing?

Clarification and meaning
Comparing experiences
Arousing empathy and gaining attention

Which of the emotional regulation strategies is used to modify an already occurring emotional experience, including any or all of its components of feeling, bodily activation, sense of purpose, or expression?

Situation selection
Situation modification.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Overall, social affective sharing is a communication process in which emotion is described to [missing something?] listener by the person who experienced it. It can be used in emotion recovery and regulation. Social affective sharing provide several positive consequences including support, comfort, empathy , alleviation of negative emotions and stretches positive feelings.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Brans, K., Van Mechelen, I., Rimé, B., & Verduyn, P. (2013). The relation between social sharing and the duration of emotional experience. Cognition & Emotion, 27(6), 1023-1041. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2012.762758

Bucich, M., & MacCann, C. (2018). Emotional Intelligence and Day-To-Day Emotion Regulation Processes: Examining Motives for Social Sharing. Personality And Individual Differences, 137, 22-26. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2018.08.002

Duprez, C., Christophe, V., Rimé, B., Congard, A., & Antoine, P. (2014). Motives for the social sharing of an emotional experience. Journal Of Social And Personal Relationships, 32(6), 757-787. doi: 10.1177/0265407514548393

Guiller, T., Dauvier, B., Pavani, J., Chakri, K., & Congard, A. (2019). ‘It might be time to accept’. Exploring the dynamics between affect regulation strategies, anxiety and timing of regulation. Personality And Individual Differences, 142, 21-27. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2019.01.023

Hadley, C. (2014). Emotional roulette? Symmetrical and asymmetrical emotion regulation outcomes from coworker interactions about positive and negative work events. Human Relations, 67(9), 1073-1094. doi: 10.1177/0018726714529316

McCance, A., Nye, C., Wang, L., Jones, K., & Chiu, C. (2010). Alleviating the Burden of Emotional Labor. Journal Of Management, 39(2), 392-415. doi: 10.1177/0149206310383909

Reeve, J. (2015). ''Understanding Motivation and Emotion'' (6th ed., pp. 358-360). Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.

Rimé, B. (2007). Interpersonal emotion regulation. In J.J. Gross (Ed.), Handbook of emotion regulation (pp. 466–485). Guilford Press.

Rimé, B. (2009). Emotion Elicits the Social Sharing of Emotion: Theory and Empirical Review. Emotion Review, 1(1), 60-85. doi: 10.1177/1754073908097189

Westen, D., Kowalski, R., & Burton, L. (2015). ''Psychology'' (4th ed., p. 402). Milton, Qld.: John Wiley & Sons.

External links[edit | edit source]