New Horizons in Management series
Edited by Neal M. Ashkanasy and Cary L. Cooper
Chapter 16: Emotion Scripts in Organizations: A Multi-level Model
Donald E. Gibson Introduction A paradox of emotions is that they are simultaneously in our control and out of our control. ‘In our control’ implies that emotions tend to follow particular patterns and are thus amenable to prediction and regulation; ‘out of our control’ suggests that they are idiosyncratic, diﬃcult-to-predict states. Experientially, this paradox is seen in the fact that strong feelings of anger may elude our control, but even in a fury we rarely break our most precious objects (Frijda, 1988). Our theorizing about emotion also illustrates this paradox. Emotions have been conceived as interruptions (Mandler, 1985), as ineﬀable bodily states (James, 1884), and as largely automatic responses out of our conscious control (Damasio, 1994; Bargh & Chartrand, 1999), yet emotions also follow predictable patterns, even ‘laws’ (Frijda, 1988), and current theories now focus on emotion regulation, emphasizing how commonplace emotion control is in daily life (see Gross, 1998). It is my contention that this in-control/out-of-control paradox can be fruitfully examined by conceiving of emotions as scripted responses. Emotions exhibit a script-like structure. They are seen, experientially (by laypeople) and conceptually (by researchers) as sequences of events based on an if–then goal-directed logic. At the same time, social norms, individual diﬀerences, and diﬀering contexts produce inﬁnite variations in these scripts. Thus, the existence of scripts suggests that control is possible, but variation sets limits on that control. This chapter examines emotional experience and expression from the perspective of script theory. I present a model...
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