How emotional expressions shape prosocial behavior: Interpersonal effects of anger and disappointment on compliance with requests

Doorn, Evert; Kleef, Gerben; Pligt, Joop
February 2015
Motivation & Emotion;Feb2015, Vol. 39 Issue 1, p128
Academic Journal
People often express emotion to influence others, for instance when making a request. Yet, surprisingly little is known about how such emotional expressions shape compliance. We investigated the interpersonal effects of anger and disappointment on compliance with requests. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants were more willing to offer help and donate to charity when a request was accompanied by disappointment rather than anger or no emotion. In Experiment 3, which involved a behavioral paradigm, emotional expressions trumped the effect of an explicit descriptive norm: Expressions of disappointment fostered generosity despite a non-generous norm, and expressions of anger undermined generosity despite a generous norm. Mediation analyses in Experiments 2 and 3 revealed that disappointment was more effective than anger in eliciting compliance because it was perceived as more appropriate for the context. Findings are discussed in relation to theorizing on social influence and the social functions of emotions.


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