Amplifying positive emotions

Expressing emotions has social functions; it provides information, affects social interactions, and shapes relationships with others. Expressing positive emotions could be a strategic tool for improving goal attainment during social interactions at work. Such effects have been found in research on social contagion, impression management, and emotion work. However, expressing emotions one does not feel entails the risk of being perceived as inauthentic. This risk may well be worth taking when the emotions felt are negative, as expressing negative emotions usually has negative effects. When experiencing positive emotions, however, expressing them authentically promises benefits, and the advantage of amplifying them is not so obvious. We postulated that expressing, and amplifying, positive emotions would foster goal attainment in social interactions at work, particularly when dealing with superiors. Analyses are based on 494 interactions involving the pursuit of a goal by 113 employes. Multilevel analyses, including polynomial analyses, show that authentic display of positive emotions supported goal attainment throughout. However, amplifying felt positive emotions promoted goal attainment only in interactions with superiors, but not with colleagues. Results are discussed with regard to the importance of hierarchy for detecting, and interpreting, signs of strategic display of positive emotions.

Wong E, Tschan F, Messerli L and Semmer NK (2013) Expressing and amplifying positive emotions facilitate goal attainment in workplace interactions. Front. Psychol.4:188. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00188

Copyright: © 2013 Wong, Tschan, Messerli and Semmer. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.