Former graduate student Jennifer Knothe and Professor Eric Walle published a chapter in the book, “The Social Nature of Emotional Expression.” Their chapter, “The relational aboutness of emotions in interpersonal contexts,” discusses how emotional communication directs and regulates individuals’ attention in different emotion contexts.
Emotion expressions communicate more than internal states; they function to signal the significance of our relations with the environment and how social partners may adaptively respond. This chapter first discusses how discrete emotions convey an “aboutness” concerning one’s appraisals of their environment. Next, we illustrate how differential qualities of discrete emotion signals regulate others’ behavior and interaction with the environment. Finally, we describe potential lines of empirical research to further our understanding of the regulatory functions of affective expressions in interpersonal contexts.