People use the emotional reactions of others as a cue to how they themselves would feel if they were to behave in a similar way. Such ‘anticipated emotions’ subsequently affect their own behaviour. This mechanism of interpersonal emotion regulation could be important for social learning and the formation of social norms.

Key findings
• The emotions that people anticipate feeling if they were to behave fairly or unfairly are related to how they actually behave. So when people anticipate feeling pride about acting fairly or unfairly, they are more likely to act this way; and when they anticipate feeling regret about acting fairly or unfairly, they are less likely to act this way.
• The emotion that relevant others express about having behaved fairly or unfairly affects third-party observers’ own anticipated emotions, and thereby their behaviour. For example, participants who observe an exemplar behaving fairly are subsequently more fair themselves if the exemplar expressed pride rather than regret about acting fairly. This influence is exerted through participants’ own anticipation of feeling pride if they were to behave fairly.

The researchers involved in this project are
Job van der Schalk, Cardiff University
Tony Manstead, Cardiff University
Martin Bruder, University of Konstanz
Toon Kuppens, University of Groningen

Publications (all Open Access, click on title to access the pdf)

Van Der Schalk, J., Kuppens, T., Bruder, M. and Manstead, A. S. R. (2014). The social power of regret: the effect of social appraisal and anticipated emotions on fair and unfair allocations in resource dilemmas. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Wagner, U., Galli, L., Schott, B. H., Wold, A., Van Der Schalk, J., Manstead, A. S. R., Scherer, K. and Walter, H. (2014). Beautiful friendship: social sharing of emotions improves subjective feelings and activates the neural reward circuitry. Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

Van Der Schalk, J., Bruder, M. and Manstead, A. S. R. (2012). Regulating emotion in the context of interpersonal decisions: The role of anticipated pride and regret. Frontiers in Psychology.