Saturday, December 27, 2014

End-year Special: Implications of using emotions as social information tokens(6)

What message does an MJ goodbye mean or make you do?
Source:Wikimedia Commons.
Some of the implications of the EASI model are:

  1. Emotions can be used to regulate human social life.
  2. Based on the perception of the observer and the interpreted or responded to emotion, people can adaptively respond to the signals of their environment, to fight or flight, and to send signals about their intentions to their immediate environment.

  3. Emotions can be used to coordinate one’s social life.
  4. If you believe a partner is committed to a relationship because he is attentive to your demands, then you’d want to be yourself.

  5. Emotions can ensure human survival.
  6. A society without the mechanism of language would have to rely on non-verbal cues for communication. But that would serve as a disadvantage when danger lurks and such danger is of immediate or spontaneous concern.

  7. Emotions can be used to change the destiny of others.
  8. Followers react to their leaders anger and are happy when he is happy. Nations go to war on the say-so of their President. When a lover feels loved, he wants to love in return.

  9. Emotions are influencing tools.
  10. People respond readily to emotions of trust and want to reply in like. Most persons dislike treachery and are disgusted to hear accounts of such.

  11. Emotions are signals of intentions and desires.
  12. By watching a deaf-and-dumb sign, you can deduce sometimes if they are angry, happy, sad or annoyed. When other methods that serve as vehicles of communication fail, people often resort to emotional cues.

  13. Emotions can be used to shape behavior.
  14. People can decode emotional signals differently. Persons with high information processing abilities react to a leader’s anger while those with low information processing abilities believe the leader is insensitive, dislikes them etc when he expresses the emotion of anger. The accuracy to decode the message transmitted by an emotion and the degree of emotional expressivity can greatly shape other’s behavior.

  15. Emotions are tied to cultures.
  16. Remember display rules? Also, traditions and customs can greatly shape one’s emotions. I can particularly testify to that this year when I went to the village to attend my grandmother’s burial. I even blogged about it.

    So, the EASI model can be a good tool in understanding, regulating and coordination our social life using emotions interpretation and responses.

The EASI model is a groundbreaking work by Van Kleef. You can read the full textual explanation here. The six series of blog articles that are focused on this theme are:

  1. How to use emotions to Human Advantage (Introduction).
  2. Series 1: How emotions can function as message bearers.
  3. Series 2: Why emotions can drive a second emotional response.
  4. Series 3: How emotions play a part in decision making.
  5. Series 4: Information processing of emotional signals.
  6. Series 5: The social context in responding and interpreting emotions.
  7. Series 6: Implications of using emotions as social information tokens.

End-year Special: The social context in responding and interpreting emotions(5)

Response and interpretation of emotions also depends on the peculiarities and characteristics of the social environment of the observer. A case in point is competitive and cooperative behavior. Inferential processes are more dominant in situations of competition and conflict than cooperation, while affective or emotional response processes are more dominant in cooperative settings.

Some cultures have specific rules on how, when and where one can express emotions. This is referred to as display rules in psychology. Some examples from the Psychlopedia are:
  • In Islamic culture, females are not to disagree because it is seen as a sign of disrespect.
  • Children in Asian cultures are often taught to mask their emotions (especially negative ones), whereas American children are generally advised to express them.
  • In other countries, the middle finger is meaningless, where as here, it's very impolite and generally a sign of anger or hate.
  • Sticking out your tongue in America usually signifies disgust, where as in China it can express surprise.
  • Slurping your soup in America is viewed as socially unacceptable, while in Japan and Hong Kong it is seen as a sign of approval of the cook and appreciation of the food.
  • In American culture, it is disrespectful to not make eye contact when talking to people, where as in many African cultures it is considered a sign of respect to look down when speaking to someone, particularly elders.
  • In America, holding up your middle finger and index finger conveys the message of peace; however, in England and Australia, this is known as an obscene way of telling someone off.
  • In Italy, biting your thumb is a way of showing disrespect or insulting someone, while in other cultures it doesn't mean anything.
  • In Japanese culture it is known that burping after a meal shows politeness and enjoyment of the food, but in American culture, after burping, you must say "excuse me" as to be ashamed for burping.
  • In America it is considered socially unacceptable for men to display their emotions.
The last blog article in the series, Series 6: Implications of using emotions as social information tokens, will discuss the way forward when using the EASI model to make sense of our social milieu.

The rest of the series:

  1. How to use emotions to Human Advantage (Introduction).
  2. Series 1: How emotions can function as message bearers.
  3. Series 2: Why emotions can drive a second emotional response.
  4. Series 3: How emotions play a part in decision making.
  5. Series 4: Information processing of emotional signals.
  6. Series 5: The social context in responding and interpreting emotions.
  7. Series 6: Implications of using emotions as social information tokens.

End-year Special: Information processing of emotional signals(4)

When an observer perceives an emotion, how he interprets it and his reaction to it depends on his motivation and ability to process the information conveyed by that emotion. By processing that information, the observer seeks to understand it and to relate it to himself whether for good or bad.

Let’s take an example. When one is forced to find answers to ambiguities such as racism and authority, his response, whether he is affected by the question and reacts emotionally to it or avails himself of every means to find suitable answers depends on if he seeks immediate answers or wants deeply probed and meditated answers. Psychologists refer to this as the need for closure. Persons with a high need for closure, or for immediate answers, have shallow information processing motivation. They tend to accept the status quo, are averse to diversity and diverse opinions, are influenced more by emotions and react to it, resist change, adopt conservative views and are easily law abiding. They usually have reduced creativity. Generally, individuals with high need for closure have low powers of processing emotional information and tend to react to rather than make inferences from perceived emotions.

A related study on persuasion and need for closure found that persons who were low on the need for closure were easily persuaded and receptive to divergent opinions because they had high information processing abilities.

In the area of leadership, followers with high information processing abilities are better able to interpret the negative emotions, like anger, of their leader and infer that they had to work harder while followers with low information processing abilities are more receptive to happiness or positive emotions. If the leader becomes angry, they become annoyed and then dislike the leader.

Power also reduces an individual’s ability to correctly process information and draw inferences from emotional expressions. People with low power can easily make inferences and more objective than those who have power.

The next blog article, Series 5: The social context in responding and interpreting emotions, will examine how cultural norms shape our reaction and interpretation of emotions.

The rest of the series:

  1. How to use emotions to Human Advantage (Introduction).
  2. Series 1: How emotions can function as message bearers.
  3. Series 2: Why emotions can drive a second emotional response.
  4. Series 3: How emotions play a part in decision making.
  5. Series 4: Information processing of emotional signals.
  6. Series 5: The social context in responding and interpreting emotions.
  7. Series 6: Implications of using emotions as social information tokens.

End-year special: How emotions play a part in decision making(3)

An inference is a conclusion drawn from evidence or reasoning. In this case, the evidence and reasoning are responses to an initial perceived emotion.

We can make inferences about others feelings, we interpret what messages is conveyed by the nod of a head, a gentle smile, a stolen kiss, which influence us, the observers. The inferences could be wrong or right depending on the circumstances. An example could be taken from culture shock, the impact you feel when you enter a culture very different from your own. An example is that Asians consider it rude to meet gazes too long (longer than a second), however, it is just the opposite in some western countries. So when a westerner meets an Asian, the Asian thinks the westerner is rude, the westerner thinks the Asian is sneaky. Some more examples from the website:
In Argentina, the usual way of greeting among friends and family is a kiss on the cheek…

Don't ever kiss an Indian.... There is no such provision for kissing a person to greet him or her. It is considered as a sexual act.
Inferences drawn from observed emotions shape our behavior. Some persons interpret guilt as a need for approval, that the expresser wants the relationship to continue while others perceive guilt as emotional blackmailand would completely reject such emotions. Non-verbal cues can be used to express the emotions of power and dominance. In rounds of negotiations, the emotions expressed by an opponent can lead negotiators to discover win-win agreements that satisfies all concerns. Emotional intelligencecan impact on a leader’s ability to be effective and can be used by followers in a business environment to draw inferences about their performance levels.

Students in school are particularly keen in observing the emotions of their lecturers. A smile or a nod of the head is all the encouragement a student needs sometimes to outperform others in group-based learning.

Therefore, by eliciting a second emotional response or helping the observer to make inferences based on how they read the emotions, emotions do help in decision making.

That brings us to the fourth blog article in the series, Series 4: Information processing of emotional signals.

The rest of the series:

  1. How to use emotions to Human Advantage (Introduction).
  2. Series 1: How emotions can function as message bearers.
  3. Series 2: Why emotions can drive a second emotional response.
  4. Series 3: How emotions play a part in decision making.
  5. Series 4: Information processing of emotional signals.
  6. Series 5: The social context in responding and interpreting emotions.
  7. Series 6: Implications of using emotions as social information tokens.

End-year special: Why emotions can drive a second emotional response(2)

A child sees his mother smoking and is soon found with a twig in his mouth, copying the way she holds and inhales from a cigarette. A sociable imitation of another person’s behavior is termed mimicry. A woman crying on the streets sometimes makes one shed a tear. The sensation of crying was carried to the brain and fed back to your senses as pity that you’d want to share with.

The two examples above demonstrate that emotions can influence others. Emotions can spread like gangrene. Happiness spreads faster than anger. Patriotism is contagious. Anger makes others to like you less and to feel dissatisfied with your company.

The contagious effect of the emotions is particularly noticeable in group settings. We all love inviting gregarious and charming Sandra to our parties but allow introverted Alex to his lonely musings. An angry member of a group can spoil the group climate and create an atmosphere of negativity. Teams that were coached by a leader in a positive mood developed one.

When anger is directed at you, you can use the tools of effective listening to defuse the anger or fuel it by responding in kind.

All these are a second emotional response which are reactions to an observed emotion.

As humans, we register emotions in the brain, process them and decide to react emotionally or make other interpretations of these registers.

The next blog article,Series 3: How emotions play a part in decision making, describes emotions role in shaping decisions.

The rest of the series:

  1. How to use emotions to Human Advantage (Introduction).
  2. Series 1: How emotions can function as message bearers.
  3. Series 2: Why emotions can drive a second emotional response.
  4. Series 3: How emotions play a part in decision making.
  5. Series 4: Information processing of emotional signals.
  6. Series 5: The social context in responding and interpreting emotions.
  7. Series 6: Implications of using emotions as social information tokens.

Friday, December 26, 2014

End-year special: How emotions can function as message bearers (1)

Emotions are our responses to internal or external events. A woman having a headache demonstrates it by either touching her hands to her head or saying it out that she has a headache. When we see a crime being committed on the street, our faces register signs of dismay and shock. On my face, your face, by body movements, by choice of words, by a silent whisper, a nod of the head, a smile of approval, a loving kiss, a hateful glance, emotions are expressed in countless ways that the senses can perceive and receive a message.

Some emotions are spontaneous. In my middle high school classes, it amazes me how the children sometimes begin drumming on the desks or exclaiming in alarm in reaction to some information in the lecture or to an answer to a question. Some are also premeditated.

Whatever the case may be, emotions are message bearers in that they convey to the observer the feelings, goals, needs, desires and social intentions of the creator of the emotion. Whether love at first sight exists or not, the reaction expressed by an observer to sex or other visual stimuli, was as a result of a emotion produced.

If happiness is appraised as a favorable and benign emotion that we all are attracted to, then what is anger? An expressive emotion that translates into a frustrated goal and taking the blame out on others.

Emotions surely convey messages and not just few, but lots of messages. Emotions then are worth studying and understanding if we want to build healthy social relationships.

The next blog article, Series 2: Why emotions can drive a second emotional response, describes the influential role of emotions in social life.

The rest of the series:

  1. How to use emotions to Human Advantage (Introduction).
  2. Series 1: How emotions can function as message bearers.
  3. Series 2: Why emotions can drive a second emotional response.
  4. Series 3: How emotions play a part in decision making.
  5. Series 4: Information processing of emotional signals.
  6. Series 5: The social context in responding and interpreting emotions.
  7. Series 6: Implications of using emotions as social information tokens.

End-of-Year special: How to use emotions to Human Advantage (Introduction)

MJ captivated thousands with his emotional music.
Source:Wikimedia Commons.
If you watch any video of Michael Jackson, you’d be amazed at how he creatively uses his emotions – his voice, face, hands and body movements – to convey messages that are meant to influence you. Emotions are not only meant to influence others in social relations, it also determines our reactions and personal feelings. Take for example a man who sees a snake on his path. He feels the emotion of fear and decides either to run or look for a stick to kill it. Emotions regulate and coordinate humans and their relationship with others. Emotions could trigger a fight or a flight response.

A nation could go to war riding on the wave of emotions.

Understanding how our emotions determine our existence and using them to human advantage both at an intrapersonal and interpersonal level is then important. This end-of-year special series of blog articles will describe a model developed by Van Kleef that was developed towards this end, but on the interpersonal level. The model is named Emotions As Social Information (EASI) model.

The EASI describes human emotions as signals from one’s face, voice, bodily posture, choice of words etc that were expressed to influence the observer and trigger either an emotional response or trigger his brain to make deductions on what message(s) the emotion was meant to convey based on his information processing ability and social context.

The six series of blog articles that are focused on this theme are:

  1. How to use emotions to Human Advantage (Introduction).
  2. Series 1: How emotions can function as message bearers.
  3. Series 2: Why emotions can drive a second emotional response.
  4. Series 3: How emotions play a part in decision making.
  5. Series 4: Information processing of emotional signals.
  6. Series 5: The social context in responding and interpreting emotions.
  7. Series 6: Implications of using emotions as social information tokens.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Puzzle: Can you make out what is X?

Can you solve the puzzle below, for x?
What is X?
Hint: You can change the angle of view - 90, 180 degrees, turn it upside down, whatever, to make out a different series.

I can't wait for the first correct answer!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

How negative emotions like sadness could turn out to be a force for good

It is not always possible to suppress emotions like anger or sadness during a crisis. When corporate image is at stake, it is rather that conventional wisdom be rethought. For the sake of the public image, to motivate the workforce, and for so many other seemingly positive reasons, demonstrating negative emotions was perceived as against the corporate good. Does it mean that all negative emotions are bad? When angry employees voice their opinions are they rebels who should be shoved out the door? Positive management leads to positive leadership.

Sometimes, the prevailing attitudes do not reflect desired positive outcomes (pdf). Sometimes, the status quo could be wrong although there are exceptions to every rule.

Bereavement could build social connections. Source: Wikimedia Commons
When, could expressions of negative emotions at the corporate arena be a force for positive results or positive changes? Management should evaluate these facts when making a decision.

  • Every situation is unique:

  • Sometimes, workers should be encouraged to express negative emotions. Managers should ensure that such negative demonstrations are constructive and for the “common good. Even positive emotions like compassion, a positive emotion, when taken to extremes, can lead to what is termed “compassion fatigue,” which has been shown to induce stress in perfectionists and overly conscientious individuals. No two situations can be the same.
  • Political nature of the situation:

  • When workers perceive injustice or unfairness, they usually have channels for lodging complaints. When these channels become unfair or inefficient, employees organize themselves. The consequences for doing so could be grave or positive; the outcomes depend on the individuals involved, their corporate political ambitions, the genesis of the negative emotion as well as other factors.
  • Organizational leadership style:

  • When management is ineffective, would it be wrong for workers to voice their complaints with a view of eliciting change? A company whose personnel department is inefficient could be recruiting workers who are unfit for the roles employed. It has been found that when followers in the organization highly agree with the top management leadership style, staff response to negative emotions turn out most times to be more positive than negative.
  • How the emotion is directed:

  • Some emotions like sadness motivates the positive behavior of building social connections when motivated by social loss rather than status loss. Corporate workers want to appear in control of their emotions so they’d rather do away with negative emotions. Yet, when a loss is shared with others, whether positive or negative, it offers an opportunity for openness and intimacy, for expanding personal corporate social circles.
  • Status associated with the job function:

  • Some workers like teachers and helpline workers are looked down upon in the society. These are negative emotions directed maybe to them as individuals and/or to their job functions. People do not want to be associated with those “kinds of jobs”. Helpline workers who deal with isolated, upset, abusive or suicidal individuals are perceived as carrying social “dirt” and they’d rather not be tainted with it.
  • How the emotion is perceived:

  • Just as every situation is unique, the individuals to which the emotion is directed to are also unique. Everybody reacts differently to anger and happiness. Some show a strong sense of affection for emotions that are directed towards them while others tend to interpret extreme and moderate meanings to emotional situations, depending on their ilk.

Positive corporate leadership desires outcomes to positive and negative emotions that reflect the expected bottom line: motivated employees, agreeable follower-ship, emotionally healthy workforce and profits. It would be conventionally wise then for management to recognize the existence of negative emotions and their place in corporate life.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Creative musings with Venn diagrams on R software

These images look archived but I liked them that was why I'm having them on my blog. For sake of the memories. Actually, I was tinkering with R software after a little lull in the Probability and Statistics book I am presently reading: Probability and Statistics for Engineering and The Sciences by Jay L. Devore. Then I chanced on a Venn Diagram Package made for R Software.
Looks like four atoms juxtaposed. 4 sets intersecting actually.Venn Diagram Package, R Software
As the caption says, it looks like atoms falling on themselves like noodles. I just loved it. Hmmm! It is actually four sets intersecting. Very good work! Then the second one, like a spacecraft. Funny, right?
5 sets intersecting, a quintuple, but looks like a spacecraft. Venn Diagram Package, R Software
The graphics might not be state-of-the-art, but I love them.