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Int J Psychol. 2011 Aug;46(4):310-20. doi: 10.1080/00207594.2010.547583. Epub 2011 May 24.

Tell me who you are and I tell you how you feel: expected emotional reactions to success and failure are influenced by knowledge about a person's personality.

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  • 1Graduate School of Management and The Interdisciplinary Center for Research on Emotions, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel.


The present research investigated the influence of knowledge about a person's modesty or arrogance on people's expectations regarding that person's emotional reactions to success and failure. Arrogance and modesty reflect the extent to which someone is likely to publicize their ability. Accordingly, we predicted that observers' expectations regarding a person's tendency to publicize their ability should inform expectations about the person's emotional reactions to success and failure. In two vignette studies, observers predicted the emotional state of a protagonist, as well as the probability that s/he will actually express that emotion and share the experience with others. For success, participants predicted a protagonist's pride, happiness, schadenfreude, and embarrassment if praised for a positive outcome. For failure, participants predicted anger, shame, guilt, sadness, and fear reactions. Across studies, personality information explained more variance than did gender or status. Results showed that the expectations for an arrogant person matched modal expectations for success, whereas for failure the expectations for the modest individual were closest to the modal expectations. Specifically, both modest and arrogant individuals were expected to suppress emotions that do not fit their self-presentational styles rather than to exaggerate expressions that do. This paper adds to our understanding of the information that people use to predict others' emotional reactions.

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