Emotions in Affect Control Theory

  • Kathryn J. LivelyEmail author
  • David R. Heise
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


According to affect control theory (ACT), individuals define situations on the basis of their community’s “theory of people”, and social organization emerges as the individuals affirm their sentiments about their identities and other categorizations through interpersonal actions. Emotions enable sensing, communicating about, and control of the resulting social relationships. We update ACT’s framework on emotions and expand the model in the following ways. First, we propose that emotional processes differ for stigmatized identities as compared to socially valued ones. Second, we propose that the characteristic emotion occurring when an identity is confirmed perfectly serves as the emotion norm for that identity. Third, we show how ACT contributes to the study of emotion management. Fourth, we discuss emotion stations—the relatively stable locations in the affective space associated with self-identities. Finally, we suggest that unnamable, ineffable emotions are integral parts of people’s experience. Implications for future and interdisciplinary research are discussed.


Affect Characteristic emotions Culture Deviant identities Emotion norms Emotion management Emotional segueing Emotional stations Identity Ineffable emotions 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA
  2. 2.Indiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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