Emotions in Expectation States Theory

  • Murray Jr. WebsterEmail author
  • Lisa Slattery Walker
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


Status and expectation state processes ordinarily apply to task focused, collective groups, creating, maintaining, or alleviating inequality. Emotions, affect, and sentiments often function as causes or consequences of status processes. Emotions appeared in Bales discussion groups of the 1950s as individuals reacted to each other’s skill and control attempts. By 1990, Ridgeway and Johnson showed how group position intertwines with emotion, and explained the common finding that positive expressions outnumber negative ones in task groups. Contemporary research documents effects in diverse settings. Business situations highlight the important difference between experiencing and expressing emotions generated by different positions in an organizational hierarchy. Behavior produced by status position may be incorrectly attributed to socialized traits, especially for gender (instrumental males, expressive females). Thus status fosters personality inferences as people try to understand what kinds of people they and others actually are. Justice and legitimation trigger other emotional consequences, again conditioned by status position. Future work may address situations where the scope conditions of status theories are met only weakly or inconsistently. Such work could expand the scope of applicability of the theories, as well as refine the propositions to incorporate emotional experience and expression.


Status Expectation states Legitimation Justice Organizational hierarchy Gender Small groups Compatible emotions 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of North CarolinaCharlotteUSA

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