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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2007 Nov;93(5):780-97.

From social talk to social action: shaping the social triad with emotion sharing.

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University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


Seemingly trivial social talk provides fertile ground for emotion sharing (a narrator and audience's realization that they experience the same emotional response toward a target), which in turn creates a coalition between the narrator and the audience, configures the narrator and audience's relationship with the target, and coordinates their target-directed action. In this article, the authors use 4 studies to investigate this thesis. In Studies 1 and 2--where participants rated scenarios in which narrators told them anecdotes--the authors found that when there was emotion sharing (a) participants were more bonded with narrators, (b) the narrator and audience's relationship with the target (as reflected in action tendencies) was determined by the emotionality of the anecdotes, and (c) they coordinated their target-directed actions. Study 3 demonstrated that this effect was indeed due to emotion sharing. Study 4 provided behavioral evidence for the effects of emotion sharing using a 2-person trust game. Together, these studies reveal that the everyday act of social talk is a powerful act that is able to shape the social triad of the narrator, the audience, and the social target, with powerful consequences for social structure and group action.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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