Social sharing of emotion following exposure to a negatively valenced situation

Cognition and Emotion 14 (5):661-688 (2000)
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Three experimental studies are reported in which we tested the prediction that negative emotion elicits the social sharing of the emotional experience. In two experiments, participants arrived at the laboratory with a friend and then viewed one of three film excerpts (nonemotional, moderate emotion, or intense emotion) alone. Afterwards, the participants who saw the film had an opportunity to interact with the friend and their conversation was recorded. In both experiments participants who had seen the intense emotion excerpt engaged in significantly more social sharing than did participants in the other two conditions. A third experiment extended the investigation to social sharing in everyday life and replicated the previous results. Nonemotional explanations of the effects observed were also ruled out. Results are discussed in the context of the relation between emotional intensity and amount of social sharing.



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