People do not always express what they are feeling—they manage displays of their emotions in many different ways. One such way is masking, in which a felt emotion is concealed by expressing another emotion instead. Although it is likely that people vary greatly in what, when, and how they mask their emotions, previous research has largely aggregated across individuals, either assuming that all people are the same or examining differences between cultural groups. Furthermore, previous research has typically either ignored situational factors or has examined masking in very limited social contexts (e.g., a stranger vs. a friend is present). The current studies have examined cross-situational differences in masking by accounting for both central tendencies and between-person variability. Taking this approach, they have established (1) which emotions are involved in masking; (2) the situations and situational features that are associated with masking; (3) whether reports of masking in different situations vary reliably from person to person—whether individuals have unique and stable behavioral signatures for masking across situations; (4) whether factors such as gender and ethnicity can account for this between-person variability; and (5) how masking a negative emotion might impact intra- and interpersonal outcomes, such as improvement in mood and development of social rapport. The studies have shown that (1) while masking most commonly involves concealing negative emotions such as sadness, anger, and frustration with the expression of a positive emotion, there are many different forms that masking can take; (2) masking varies significantly across situations and varies as a function of personal distance, setting (public vs. private), and a number of other situational features; (3) individuals vary significantly from one another in the association between masking and situational factors such as personal distance; (4) gender and ethnicity can explain some between-person variability, but not all; and (5) preliminary evidence suggests that masking a negative emotion by instead expressing a positive one may improve mood and benefit interpersonal rapport. The findings represent a first step toward understanding a type of display management that occurs often in everyday life, but which has previously had little empirical research devoted to it.
|School:||University of Washington|
|School Location:||United States -- Washington|
|Source:||DAI-B 70/01, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Social psychology, Personality psychology|
|Keywords:||Behavioral signatures, Display management, Display rules, Emotion, Emotion regulation, Masking, Person-situation interactions|
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