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Emotion. 2014 Aug;14(4):722-32. doi: 10.1037/a0036103. Epub 2014 Apr 21.

Multiple emotions: a person-centered approach to the relationship between intergroup emotion and action orientation.

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Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne.


Although a great deal of research has investigated the relationship between emotions and action orientations, most studies to date have used variable-centered techniques to identify the best emotion predictor(s) of a particular action. Given that people frequently report multiple or blended emotions, a profitable area of research may be to adopt person-centered approaches to examine the action orientations elicited by a particular combination of emotions or "emotion profile." In two studies, across instances of intergroup inequality in Australia and Canada, we examined participants' experiences of six intergroup emotions: sympathy, anger directed at three targets, shame, and pride. In both studies, five groups of participants with similar emotion profiles were identified by cluster analysis and their action orientations were compared; clusters indicated that the majority of participants experienced multiple emotions. Each action orientation was also regressed on the six emotions. There were a number of differences in the results obtained from the person-centered and variable-centered approaches. This was most apparent for sympathy: the group of participants experiencing only sympathy showed little inclination to perform prosocial actions, yet sympathy was a significant predictor of numerous action orientations in regression analyses. These results imply that sympathy may only prompt a desire for action when experienced in combination with other emotions. We suggest that the use of person-centered and variable-centered approaches as complementary analytic strategies may enrich research into not only the affective predictors of action, but emotion research in general.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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