August 9, 2019 at 1:23 pm

Peters Co-Authors ‘Does Expressing Emotions Enhance Perceptual Accuracy of Negative Emotions during Relationship Interactions?’

Dr. Brett Peters, portrait

Dr. Brett Peters

Dr. Brett Peters, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Ohio University, co-authored a journal article on “Does expressing emotions enhance perceptual accuracy of negative emotions during relationship interactions?” in Emotion.

Abstract: Partners’ negative emotions communicate social information necessary for individuals to respond appropriately to important relational events. Yet, there is inconsistent evidence regarding whether partners’ emotional expression enhances accurate perceptions of partners’ emotions. The current studies make methodological and theoretical extensions to the extant literature by directly assessing whether partners’ emotional expression during relationship interactions predicts 2 types of accuracy relevant to the theorized interpersonal functions of negative emotions: tracking accuracy and directional bias. In Studies 1 and 2, both members of recruited couples reported on their own negative emotions, disclosure of emotions, and perceptions of their partners’ negative emotions during relationship interactions at the end of each day for 21 days. In Study 3, couples engaged in an emotionally relevant discussion in the laboratory. Participants immediately reviewed their discussions and rated their own negative emotions and perceptions of their partners’ negative emotions within each 30-s segment of the discussion. Independent coders rated the degree to which each person expressed their emotions during the discussion. In all three studies, partners’ greater emotional expression predicted perceivers more accurately tracking partners’ negative emotions (greater tracking accuracy). High levels of partners’ emotional expression also predicted perceivers overestimating partners’ negative emotions (greater directional bias). This expression–perception pattern should support the interpersonal function of negative emotions by orienting perceivers to important emotional events that would be costly to overlook. The results, considered in the context of prior research, highlight the importance of matching methodological approaches with the theoretical processes under investigation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)

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