Rewarding and Punishing Emotional Expressions in Groups: The Role of Responder Status
19 Pages Posted: 21 May 2010 Last revised: 29 Oct 2015
Date Written: June 9, 2010
A functionalist perspective on status suggests that the norm of expressing status-consistent emotions simplifies interactions within groups and aids group functioning. Group members respond to this norm by rewarding status-consistent, and punishing status-inconsistent emotional expressions. However, we suggest this view neglects individual status-striving motives within groups (Barkow, 1989; Goffman, 1969). High-status members are motivated to maintain the hierarchy, but low-status members are motivated to ascend the hierarchy. Thus, the decision to reinforce status-consistent expressions crucially depends on the status of the responder. Two studies tested this prediction. As expected, while high-status responders allocated more rewards for status-consistent (Study 1), and excluded members for status-inconsistent emotional expressions (Study 2), low-status responders allocated more rewards for status-inconsistent (Study 1), and excluded members for status-consistent emotional expressions (Study 2). We discuss the importance of individual status motivations in reinforcing norms designed to promote stability in status hierarchies.
Keywords: status, emotion expression, rewards, punishment
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