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Journal Article

Managing the Emotions of Others

Peggy A. Thoits
Symbolic Interaction
Vol. 19, No. 2 (Summer 1996), pp. 85-109
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction
DOI: 10.1525/si.1996.19.2.85
Stable URL:
Page Count: 25
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Managing the Emotions of Others
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Although research has focused on how individuals manage their own emotions, little attention has been paid to how individuals manage the emotions of other people. Here, I describe several techniques of interpersonal emotion-management, drawing from observations of a psychodrama-based encounter group which deliberately manipulated its members' feelings. Analysis reveals a number of strategies (e.g., group enactments, provocations, comforting) which, when used sequentially, produced first emotional loss of control in the individual and then positive emotion. Group solidarity was sometimes affected by these interpersonal emotion-management techniques as well. Some techniques may be similar to those used in military training and cult group recruitment, although further research attention is needed in these arenas. Other settings in which members play upon the emotions of others should be examined to identify other interpersonal techniques and the sequencing of strategies which produce desired individual and group outcomes.

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