Does it Help to 'Own Your Emotions'? Reactions to Expressions of Self- Versus Other-Attributed Positive and Negative Emotions
28 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2004
A staple of piece of advice proffered by conflict consultants and practitioners is to "own one's emotions"; that is, to use I messages rather than You messages to express negative emotions. This investigation tested the notion that people react more positively when speakers "own" their emotions. In Study 1, hypothetical self-attributed (I) emotion messages to express emotions about respondents' behavior were compared to other-attributed (You) messages, with an I-You message added in Study 2. In both studies, we assessed the effect of both positive and negative emotion statements on perceived politeness, effectiveness, and emotional reactions, and perceived threat in Study 2. We found no differences in reactions to the message forms for negative emotions, but both studies provided evidence for differences in respondents' reaction for positive emotional expressions. These results suggest a self-serving bias; recipients do not distinguish between ways of phrasing negative emotions expressed to them, but apparently appreciate being given credit for speakers' positive emotions.
Keywords: Communication, Emotions, Empirical Research
JEL Classification: D74
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation