Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Interpersonal effects of emotions in negotiations

How do different emotional expressions influence the behavior of other people in negotiations?

Gert-Jan Lelieveld

Emotions have long been regarded as disruptive forces that interfere with rational decision making. Increasingly, however, emotion researchers have come to acknowledge the functional aspects of emotions. According to a social-functional perspective, emotions function as social communication, conveying information about one’s feelings and intentions. In negotiation, a social functional account of emotions assumes that (1) communicated emotions lead to informational inferences, and (2) these informational inferences have behavioral consequences for. Emotions thereby serve as positive or negative incentives for other people’s behavior.

Whereas most work has focused on the difference between communicating negative emotions and communicating positive emotions, I stress the importance of going beyond valence when studying the interpersonal effects of emotions. In my work I compare the effects of different negative emotions and of different positive emotions. I investigate how they differentially affect the behavior of others, but I also use neuroimaging measures to study the neural reactions to different emotions. Much of my work has focused on the difference between the interpersonal effects of the two negative emotions anger and disappointment. Whereas anger seems to communicate power and toughness in a negotiation, disappointment communicates weakness and dependency. My work has shown that in negotiations people respond differently to these two negative emotions, and that both emotions activate different brain regions in others.

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