Social Functions of Emotion and Talking About Emotion at Work
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Social Functions of Emotion and Talking About Emotion at Work

Edited by Dirk Lindebaum, Deanna Geddes and Peter J. Jordan

What novel theoretical insights can be gleaned by comparing our theoretical understanding of emotion in relation to how we 'talk about’ emotion at work? Drawing from psychological and sociological thinking, leading emotion researchers respond to this question for ten common and powerful emotions at work. The chapters detail various conditions under which our study of emotions and our talk about them can be at odds or reinforce each other in organizations, and how these differences impact subsequent consequences for organizations and their members.
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Chapter 10: Talking about schadenfreude: sharing versus the social function

Paul Harvey and Marie T. Dasborough


Talking about schadenfreude feelings can have effects that differ from the intended social functions of the emotion. In this chapter, we contend that schadenfreude is a complex emotion with both positive and negative valence. As such, socially sharing the emotion can have upsides as well as downsides, depending on how it is perceived by others. We illustrate this point by highlighting the benefits of sharing schadenfreude, as well as the negative perceptions that may form regarding the person expressing the schadenfreude. We propose that schadenfreude can play important social functional roles and that talking about it provides valuable information for observers. A number of situational and individual factors––which are not well understood––appear to help determine if the person expressing the schadenfreude is viewed positively or negatively by others. We conclude our chapter with a discussion of practical advice for individuals, as well as directions for future research.

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