The Verbal Communication of Emotions
eBook - ePub

The Verbal Communication of Emotions

Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Susan R. Fussell

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  2. English
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eBook - ePub

The Verbal Communication of Emotions

Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Susan R. Fussell

Dettagli del libro
Anteprima del libro
Indice dei contenuti
Citazioni

Informazioni sul libro

This book pulls together new research and theory on the verbal communication of emotions by an international, cross-disciplinary group of recognized experts in affective communication. The book's goal is to provide readers with a comprehensive view of current research and encourage cross-disciplinary interaction. Topics include analyses of literal and figurative expressions for emotions, studies of the use of metaphor and other figurative expressions for emotion, analysis of the role of conversational partners in creating emotional meaning, and the effects of culture on emotional communication. The chapters are organized into three broad areas: background theory, figurative language use, and social/cultural aspects of emotional communication. Part I reviews fundamental issues in the verbal communication of emotion. Part II examines the role of metaphor and other figures of speech in emotional communication in both everyday language and psychotherapeutic contexts. Part III looks at ways emotions are embedded in larger socio-culture processes. Taken as a whole, the chapters provide a comprehensive look at the current state of research on the use of language in affective communication and suggest a number of interesting directions for future research.

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Informazioni

Anno
2002
ISBN
9781135654795

– 1 –

The Verbal Communication of Emotion: Introduction and Overview
Susan R. Fussell
Carnegie Mellon University
The interpersonal communication of emotional states is fundamental to both everyday and clinical interaction. One’s own and others’ affective experiences are frequent topics of everyday conversations, and how well these emotions are expressed and understood is important to interpersonal relationships and individual well-being. Similarly, in therapeutic contexts, progress depends on, among other things, how articulately the client expresses his or her emotions and how well the therapist understands and responds to these expressions. In this volume we take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the verbal communication of emotion in a variety of contexts.
All languages provide speakers with an array of verbal strategies for conveying emotions. In English, for example, we have an abundance of both literal (e.g., irked, angry, furious ), and figurative (e.g., flipping one’s lid, blow a gasket ) expressions that can be used to describe a theoretically infinite number of emotional states (e.g., Bush, 1973; Clore, Ortony, & Foss, 1987; Davitz, 1969; Johnson-Laird & Oatley, 1989; Ortony, Clore, & Collins, 1988; Ortony, Clore, & Foss, 1987). Studies of language use in psychotherapy likewise are replete with examples of literal and figurative expressions for emotions (e.g., Angus, 1996; Davitz, 1969; Davitz & Mattis, 1964; Ferrara, 1994; Karp, 1996; McMullen & Conway, 1996; Pollio & Barlow, 1975; Siegelman, 1990).
This book pulls together new research and theory on the verbal communication of emotions by an international, cross-disciplinary group of recognized experts in affective communication, with the goal of providing readers with a comprehensive view of current research and fertilizing cross-disciplinary interaction. Topics include analyses of literal and figurative expressions for emotions, studies of the use of metaphor and other figurative expressions for emotion, analysis of the role of conversational partners in creating emotional meaning, and the effects of culture on emotional communication. In the remainder of this introductory chapter, I first describe the scope of the book; then, I briefly summarize the chapters in each section of the book; finally, I describe several themes and issues that arise throughout the book and outline some areas for future research.

THE SCOPE OF THE BOOK

The field of emotional communication is very large; comprehensive coverage of all approaches to this topic would far exceed the page limits of this book. In this section I briefly describe the scope of the volume.

Verbal Communication of Emotions

First, all contributions deal explicitly with the verbal communication of emotions. It is well established that humans use a wide range of nonverbal and paralinguistic mechanisms to express emotion, including facial expressions, gestures, posture, tone of voice, and the like. Over the past several decades, substantial progress has been made in understanding how emotions are expressed through these nonverbal mechanisms (see, e.g., papers in Barrett, 1998; Ekman & Davidson, 1994, Feldman & Rimé, 1991; Philippot, Feldman, & Coats, 1999; Russell & Fernandez-Dols, 1997; Scherer & Ekman, 1984).
Important as these modalities are, however, paralinguistic and nonverbal channels in and of themselves are insufficient for expressing the full range of human emotional experiences for several reasons. First, although nonverbal cues can indicate what general class of emotions a person is feeling, they typically do not provide detailed information about that person’s emotional state. By seeing that someone is crying, for instance, we might assume that they are sad; by the extent of sobbing we might even be able to infer the intensity of the sadness. But the tears in and of themselves provide no information about the particular experience of sadness, for example, the cognitions that go along with the sadness (e.g., “I have no money” vs. “I’m lonely”) or the circumstances that lead up to feeling sad (e.g., “I lost my job” vs. “My dog just died”). As the contributions to this book show, verbal descriptions of emotional states can provide quite precise information about the specific form of an emotion, such as anger, depression, or happiness, that a person is experiencing.
In addition, there is a range of circumstances under which people talk about emotions that occurred in the past. As Rimé (this volume) shows, people often talk about their past emotional experiences with friends and family. Past experiences are also a major topic of discussion in therapeutic contexts, in self-help groups, and other specialized settings. Furthermore, people talk about others’ emotional experiences—people they know, public figures, characters in books and movies, and the like (e.g., Fussell & Moss, 1998). In all these cases, people are communicating about emotions and feelings they are not personally experiencing at the time of the conversation, or at least not experiencing with the same intensity as the original event. Because many nonverbal behaviors are signs rather than intentional signals of emotional state, they have limited value in communicating about emotions one is not experiencing at the time of communication.

Interdisciplinary Approach

Second, the volume takes an explicitly interdisciplinary approach. Valuable insights into the verbal communication of emotion have come from workers in a number of fields, including linguistics, conversational analysis, ethnomethodology, sociolinguistics, anthropological linguistics, communications, and social, cognitive, and clinical psychology (see, e.g., papers in Andersen & Guerrero, 1998; Athanasiadou & Tabakowska, 1998; Niemeier & Dirven, 1997; Russell, 1987). Each of these areas, through its theoretical and empirical approach, offers unique insights into affective communication. The interdisciplinary foundation of the book is evident in several interrelated aspects of the contributions: the level of analysis used to examine verbal phenomena, the authors' empirical approaches, and the context of their investigations.
Multiple Levels of Analysis. The contributors focus on emotional expression at several different levels of analysis. Some focus on specific linguistic devices such as the literal emotional lexicon (e.g., English terms such as angry, sad, happy and the like) and/or the use of conventional metaphors, idioms, and other figures of speech (e.g., hit the roof, down in the dumps, on Cloud 9). Others examine descriptions of emotions in actual conversations, looking at, among other things, the creation of novel metaphors for emotions. Yet others examine language use at a dialogue level, considering how the emotion is expressed through a series of utterances, looking at the partners’ influence, and so forth. Finally, some contributors look at verbal descriptions of emotions over a series of interactions, noting how these descriptions may change with repeated discussion of the emotional incident.
Multiple Empirical Approaches. The contributors also vary in the methodologies they use to approach their subject. The linguistically oriented contributors analyze the meaning and use of conventional expressions for emotions. They consider, for example, how literal and figurative expressions for emotion concepts are expressed in different languages. Other contributors combine quantitative and qualitative analyses of naturally occurring descriptions of emotions, for example, by counting and classifying the number of metaphorical emotion phrases in a dialogue corpus. Contributors with a conversational analytic orientation take a purely qualitative approach, looking closely at how emotions are raised, responded to, and worked through in segments of discourse. Lastly, some contributors take an experimental psychological approach, allowing them to have control over many of the factors hypothesized to influence the production and comprehension of affective language. Each of these approaches has its strengths and weaknesses. By bringing them together in one volume we hope to stimulate greater cross-disciplinary interaction that may lead to converging evidence about the verbal communication of emotions.
Multiple Research Settings. Finally, the contributors focus on how emotions are expressed in a variety of communicative settings. Those taking a linguistic approach consider emotional expressions in the abstract. Others study natural conversations between friends, relatives, and strangers. A number of chapters examine language use in psychotherapeutic contexts, building on previous work by Labov and Fanshel (1977), the contributors in Russell (1987), Siegelman (1990), and others. Finally, some authors pursue their research in the laboratory, where they can carefully control variables such as the number and characteristics of communicators, the topic of conversation, and so forth, to assess the effects of these variables on affective communication.

International Group of Contributors

Finally, the book brings together an international group of contributors. As many of the contributions illustrate, the communication of emotions is shaped by language and culture in a variety of ways. To avoid creating theories that are too heavily rooted in the English language, contributions were solicited from investigators in a number of different countries (Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Hungary, and the United States). Many of these contributors examine affective language in their own and other native languages in addition to English, thereby potentially broadening our scope of understanding.
It should be noted that space limits precluded the inclusion of chapters from every prominent researcher in each of the fields we have mentioned. Each contributor has provided an extensive reference section with pointers to other important research in their respective fields.

OVERVIEW OF CHAPTERS

Chapters are organized into three broad areas: background theory, figurative language use, and social/cultural aspects of emotional communication. Part I, Theoretical Foundations, consists of three chapters that look at fundamental issues in the verbal communication of emotion.
Cliff Goddard (Chapter 2, Explicating Emotions Across Languages and Cultures: A Semantic Approach ) discusses a fundamental problem in the study of verbal communication of emotions: semantic differences across languages and cultures. For example, he observes that lexical terms in other languages that are roughly similar to our words anger and depression can have subtle differences in meaning. As a result, interpreting cross-cultural research on emotional language is problematic. He suggests that instead of glossing over semantic differences between languages, we consider them part of the phenomena to be investigated. Goddard takes an approach known as “natural semantic metalanguage” (NSM), originated by Wierzbicka (1992, 1999). In the NSM approach, word meanings are specified using a small set of universal semantic concepts (e.g., people, good/bad, think, feel ). Unlike specific emotion terms, he argues, these semantic universals are found in all languages and thus can form metalanguage to describe specific emotion words in specific languages. In applying NSM to emotion terms, feelings associated with a specific emotion (e.g., “sadness”) are linked to a typical cognitive scenario (e.g., “something bad has happened”) using the semantic metalanguage. Goddard gives a variety of examples of how NSM can be applied to emotion terms in English and a number of other languages including Polish, Malayan, and Japanese. Next, Goddard turns his attention to cultural scripts about expressing emotions. He again applies the NSM strategy of using a small set of universal primitive features to characterize rules for expressing emotions in different cultures. Goddard’s chapter is an elegant demonstration of the strengths of the NSM approach.
Sally Planalp and Karen Knie (Chapter 3, Integrating Verbal and Nonverbal Emotion(al) Messages ) focus on how verbal and nonverbal cues to emotion might be theoretically integrated (see also Planalp, 1999). They observe that the complexity of this issue has led to a “divide and conquer” strategy in which investigators tend to focus on individual cues (e.g., facial expressions, intonation, verbal messages) in isolation from the others. Although this strategy has provided insights into emotional communication, it has not increased our understanding of how people integrate nonverbal and verbal cues when expressing and understanding emotions in actual conversations. Planalp and Knie outline O’Keefe’s (1988) Message Design Logics and explicate the implications of this model for integrating verbal and nonverbal cues to emotion. In Expressive Logic, emotions are viewed as entities that build up and escape or leak out of the body in various ways, including nonverbal behaviors, paralinguistic phenomena, and verbal utterances. In Conventional Logic, emotional messages are sent, via one or a combination of cues, to a receiver. The focus is on the channels used to send affective messages and the extent to which the recipient understands the message. In Rhetorical Logic, emotion and communication are viewed as activities oriented toward the achievement of social goals. Planalp and Knie describe in detail how different conceptualizations of communication affect researchers’ choices of topics and paradigms used to investigate emotional communication.
In Chapter 4, How to do Emotions with Words: Emotionality in Conversations, Reinhard Fiehler outlines his approach to studying the relationship between emotion and langu...

Indice dei contenuti

Stili delle citazioni per The Verbal Communication of Emotions

APA 6 Citation

[author missing]. (2002). The Verbal Communication of Emotions (1st ed.). Taylor and Francis. Retrieved from https://www.perlego.com/book/1711422/the-verbal-communication-of-emotions-interdisciplinary-perspectives-pdf (Original work published 2002)

Chicago Citation

[author missing]. (2002) 2002. The Verbal Communication of Emotions. 1st ed. Taylor and Francis. https://www.perlego.com/book/1711422/the-verbal-communication-of-emotions-interdisciplinary-perspectives-pdf.

Harvard Citation

[author missing] (2002) The Verbal Communication of Emotions. 1st edn. Taylor and Francis. Available at: https://www.perlego.com/book/1711422/the-verbal-communication-of-emotions-interdisciplinary-perspectives-pdf (Accessed: 14 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

[author missing]. The Verbal Communication of Emotions. 1st ed. Taylor and Francis, 2002. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.