In intergroup conflicts, expressed emotions influence how others see and react to those who express them. Here, we investigated whether this in turn implies that emotions may be expressed strategically. We tested whether emotion expression can differ from emotion experience, and whether emotion expression (more than emotion experience) is used to pursue specific goals. Specifically, we focused on whether support-seeking emotions (fear and sadness) are used to call for support from a powerful third party and contempt to distance from an antagonistic out-group. In two studies, using the same ostensible conflict, we manipulated whether participants communicated their emotions towards the out-group (no vs. yes) and third party (no vs. yes) and employed a between-subjects design in Study 1 (N = 86) and a within-subjects design in Study 2 (N = 83). In both studies, we found that members of a disadvantaged group expressed reduced support-seeking emotions towards the out-group than they experienced (i.e., in conditions without an audience), providing support for the assumption that emotion expression does not necessarily reflect experience. Further, in Study 2, we found in line with expectations that the goal to call for support was more important in the communication with the third party than with the antagonistic out-group. The goal was best predicted by expressed support-seeking emotions, providing support for the assumption that emotion expression is used to pursue goals. Interestingly, we only found this association for a beneficial goal (i.e., calling for support) and not for distancing, a destructive goal. These results support the proposed strategic use of emotion expression and as such advance our understanding of the function of expressed emotions.
- GROUP-BASED ANGER
- INTERGROUP CONFLICT
- ACTION TENDENCIES
- COLLECTIVE ACTION
Replication data for: When to Reveal What You Feel: How Emotions Towards Antagonistic Out-Group and Third Party Audiences are Expressed Strategically