Why Emotional Similarity Breeds Attraction: Disentangling the Effects of Shared Appraisals, Subjective Emotions, and Action Tendencies

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Shared emotions are associated with thriving in relationships (Anderson, Keltner & John, 2004; Gonzaga, Campos, & Bradbury, 2007), and greater liking for new individuals (Larson & Gardner, 2015). However, the psychological mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are not well-understood. Emotions are fleeting experiential states and, seen through this lens, finding someone more attractive if they share one’s emotions makes as little sense as finding someone especially appealing if they have an upset stomach at the same time you do. The current work explores the possibility that shared emotions serve as cues to similarity on other important dimensions, including shared cognitive appraisals (which may suggest a shared worldview) and shared action tendencies (which may suggest a greater possibility of effective coordination with the other). First, we replicate prior work indicating that people prefer others who share their emotional reactions to upsetting events. Next, we examine whether people infer similarity in cognition and action from similarity in subjective emotion, and whether people continue show a preference for emotional similarity once they have direct information about the other’s cognitive judgments of a situation or about the other’s desired behavioral reactions to the situation. Finally, we assess whether shared subjective emotions, shared appraisals and shared action tendencies each have unique links to distinct types of outcomes: trust and affiliation, satisfaction of the motive for coherence and effectance, and anticipation of effective behavioral coordination. Taken together, this research offers insight into what aspects of shared emotional experience impact affiliation and wellbeing, and why

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  • 05/06/2019
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