Toward a general sociological theory of emotions

Abstract

Key ideas from expectation-states theory, symbolic interactionism, dramaturgical analysis, power-status theories, attribution theory, and psychoanalytic theories are combined in an effort to generate a more general theory of emotional arousal in face-to-face interaction. The level of emotional arousal in interaction is seen to reflect the degree of incongruity between expectations, including expectations for confirmation of self, and actual experiences. Such arousal involves the conversion of primary emotions into first and second-order combinations. The nature of emotional arousal is, however, further complicated by the activation of defense mechanisms and attribution processes. The composite theory is formalized into a series of propositions which can serve as hypotheses for empirical tests

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