The Conceptualization of Emotion by Socio-Political Processes

Lulu Farshana M

What shapes political behaviour more, the situations in which individuals find themselves, or the internal psychological factors like emotions, beliefs, values, traits, attitudes etc. of those individuals? This is the leading base of psychological study relates politics today. Various branches of psychology mostly social, organizational, cognitive and affective perspectives are playing major role in the development of the study in political behaviour. The effect of the affective factors always being studied at surface level and became crucial at depth which needs biological reference too, it implies the difficulty in analysis and interpretation. We examined the approaches towards emotion and its utility in the social settings. Then reviewed the studies associated with emotion in socio-political behaviour. The paper intents to conceptualize and differentiate the hypothesized factors discussed in competing theories, studies and collect array of data on emotional response which can enable the socio-political processes. Through analysing the extensive range of primary resources and critical literature infer the significance of the emotional perspective and could conclude that emotional responses bear both positive and negative effect in the socio-political aspects.

Key word: Emotion, biface, socio-political behaviour, affective factor

Emotion have been identified in socio-political aspects as long ago (Neuman, 2007). Emotions plays great role in the human behaviour, while the complexity of the internal processing and identification be crucial for the researchers. Emotion guides the human behaviour and can identify the emotion automatically through their experiences (Averill, 1980). It’s become more complicated when come into the social spectrum. Group identification is be the reason behind the collective emotions, which can influence the people attitude and behaviour in the socio- political aspect. People have emotional responses towards political issues, events and also towards the political principles concerns by a society. Earlier studies basically focus on the cognitive process as an effect of the cognitive revolution after the World War II. Later identified that the cognitive factors are co-ordinately influenced by the emotions and vice versa.

The contribution of the socio-political emotions related studies are discourses the understanding of the processes in the social structure eases the framing of the pubic thinking which enables the political communication. Political emotion be crucial in the civic society pursued the critical function of the transfer of information bear all the possible positive and negative consequences (Ahmed, 2004). The complexity of emotion in social structure always encountered by problems and issues in the socio political relatives be studied as an urgency to resolve the current problems which concerns the technological advancement will crucial and stimulate the multi-disciplinary interest in studies. The existing literature arguing that the emotions are significantly influence the political behaviour (Markus, 2002) which leads to critical politically elegant attitude have critical impact on public policy attitude (,2005) and political learning of rational decisions (Halbrook,2001). Political knowledge is basically coordinated by the emotional experience occurred as an effect of the political stimuli (Miller, 2001) act as stimulus for the socio-cultural construction which could deal as dual emotional system consist of the explicit and implicit emotions.

The narration of the emotional experience even in the traditional way could be influence by the public feelings and will be a cause for the development of communal emotional landscape in the surface level, which implies the political statement can be any form of the message includes photographs, films, poetry, stories etc. this was one of the marked discussion about the transfer and development of the emotion being studied which combines the political emotion with the public collective feelings. Public feeling borrows the collective nature of the emotion where the specific critic aspects be shared by the others can became a motivator for social movements. The affective content always turn into the social construction concerned with the intellectual involvements consist of different domains such as cultural studies, geopolitical histories, colonisation, genocide etc.

“Human affect in the western tradition” review the significance of the emotion in the political behaviour, one of the specific issue discussed is that the pathology and functional role of the human emotion have an effect in distracting, distorting and overloading the cognitive capacities when the individual reach at a different alternatives about personal and public interest (Neumann, 2000). What is emotion and how it affect the socio-political situations are be the most critic among the political psychologist who are focusing on the affect effects in politics. Structural part of the emotion inter always keeps connection with the cognition. Contemporary studies discussing about the structure of political cognition in which focus on the concept of schema development and belief system. Reasonably the researchers found that the schema development closely connected with the emotional responses (Kinder, 1994). 

Theoretical frameworks of political emotion 

Emotion is a resultant response of personal identification of the surrounding stimulus combined by the biological and cognitive components. The literature of psychology and politics repeat with the structural and functional models that attempt to capture the inter-linked connection between three dimensions of human behaviour which are cognition, emotion and conation. The basic interpretation implies eventually mark the emotional catalogues in the expenditure of social processes followed by the political events (Marcus, 2003). It gets more complicated in the collective spectrum rather than the individual inner analysis. The studies identified that the group level experience and sharing of emotions are more contributing to the socio-political conflicts (Albert, 2007).

Social and political process are collective in nature must be contextualized and have an interconnection with emotional elicitation by different social aspects shows in the simplest form of the expression. It felt on the individual level encourages the actual event develops the cognitive appraisal probably direct the group values and ideologies (Bar-Tal 2007). Individual emotions are earlier considered as critic in the social context while the recent researchers are considered emotion with the social psychological approaches which implies that the individual can experience the emotion by the influence of the group even if they don’t have the direct involvement with the emotion educing events (Smith, 1993) identified as group emotion theory (Mackie, Davos & Smith, 2000). This perspective integrates the social identity theories (Tajfel, 1978). Group based emotions are more depends on two factor such as the group identification and appraisal of emotion eliciting events, these factors have close influence on the personality, aptitude and social desirability(Mackie, Davos & Smith, 2000) it will extended towards the self- categorization implies the ability to perceive each individual as a member of specific group.

Individual and collective emotion can apprehend the emotion in which elicited by social context, while the intensity is decided by the coupling of emotion with the group identification. It too can differentiate the social group structured through social relationships that formed simply based on the common attributes. The collective emotion can elicit a common action of each individual in the group (Barbalet, 1998). Recent studies are focused on the situation in which the collective emotions are arguing that there is need of distinguishing between emotional atmosphere and emotional culture (Rivera, 1992). According to the Fisher (2004) study discuss that the person who were be a part of a group and it is exposed with an emotional events shows to aggregate emotionally to each other and experience similar emotions.

Emotions and public approach towards the socio- political processes

Emotions are more critical to identify the situation is whether a rewarding or punishing, this automatic signals became a facilitated part in the decision making process by sorting it into the good or bad by considering the environmental stimulus associated with the past experience. Based on the theme political psychologist developed a process called hot cognition for defining, examining and interpreting such kind of motivated reasoning properties consider emotion as a critical evaluator of the assessment of context (Lodge & Taber, 2013).

Researchers introduced convenient methods to simplify the emotional experience, worked on both explicit and implicit emotions. Focus on the positive and negative dimensions of emotion found useful to distinguish between the emotions. Specific emotion and appraisal in a social context always shows up a one- to-one relationship. In order to examine the relationship of the observed emotional expression and individualised social context needs an empirical analysis. While the predicted emotions evolved by a specific situation conformed by experimentation of manipulated attributes of scenario along with the proper appraisal arrangements (Roseman, 1991).

Negative emotions can be a range of mild dislike to intense anger be connected mostly with inter- intra group relationships relates the prejudices, conflicts, corporations etc. But how really emotion can impact on individual’s socio-political responses to specific events, is be considered by the simple transaction of the hard emotional evidences towards the practical policies. Cognitive factors influence in it directly and indirectly. Emotional impact on the social process being critic to the development of the society and it can be inhibitor and facilitator for the overall social balance (McClurg, 2006). While scholars proved that the social influence in different aspects with respect to the variety of political emotional outcomes are the untold critic in historical researches, further studies be analysed by affective factors and identified the mechanism has impact on the political decision making too (Downs, 1957). Similarly Lewis (2000) studied the peer pressure relation with the political decision and emotional expression in the social circumstances elicit the emotions like pride, embracement, shame etc. This mechanism discussed and tested in political science as indirectly (, 2010).

People usually use the emotional factors for processing of information about a social situation to attach the previous experience to redefine the existing problem (Anderson, Hurbert, 1963) it implies the citizen’s readily response about a situation or opinion is always an emotional content. The process of hot cognition is became one of the technical evidence for the argument which is identified as a response shot by any social object or process is inevitably encounter by the emotional factors, the process is cannot be start off without affect tag (Abelson,1963). The social construction of emotion is an interpreted variable between the stimulus and responses elicited by the surrounded environment having socially impacted reasons, since the individuals interpretation is lies on the contents of social products are changing across the geographical areas, time period, cultural values. Emotions are varying as a social dependent variable per the social variation which could elicit the conditions for various preferences and emotions (Harre, 1987).

Model of emotions in socio- political process 

Hypothesis  proposed that emotion have strong crucial effect on the social cognition, but the  processing of the each emotion be identified as varying effect on the processing of social information. Through examination of the multiple research studies gives the evidence for the argument.  OCC model of emotional structure gives description for the situation of emotional implication for corresponds and its actions. It’s a two dimensional in nature, one dimension is focus on the positive and the other is negative in level of response towards the elicited arousal (Ortony, Clore and Collins, 1988). Similarly the Roseman’s structural model of discrete emotional responses also distinguish the success and failure are specifically situation influential (Roseman, 1996).

An Appraisal based framework for the public emotional effect on the socio-political process is proposed as a result of the integration of multiple researches. It describes the serial stages of emotional effects and group induced emotions can come up with the development of attitude and specific behavioural responses. There is a varying effect on the emotional responses as per the environment. Emotional ventilation in the social organization especially related to a politically relevant aspect is crucially connected with the previous experiences and social sharing of emotional experience.

Figure 1.1 discusses the development of emotions in a social organizational process as sequential process occurs with a start that the individual or group faced by a sudden primary socio-political appraisal followed by the integration of the appraisal with the previous experiences, it may or may not be directly experienced by the individual. The social sharing of the past experience also could be a reason for the eliciting for emotions. Simultaneously cognitive appraisal evaluation also occurs, group identification is became a crucial in the information processing. Based on the information existing and pre-existing will decides that the emotions nature. Consequences of each became analysed in fact by the social desirability with which occupy be an automatic processing will gives an idea of the existing conflicts and possible solutions to ventilate emotions will leads to development of new socio-political attitude.


The primary aim of the article is to identify the role emotion in the socio-political processes and develop a theoretical framework of the emotional involvements, which could give a proper understanding in the field of the socio-political researchers. It could give the conceptual clarity on the other model related, through the analysis of interdisciplinary researchers and empirical data from different sources reveals the significant involvement of the emotion and its enumerate influences in the varying psychological aspects such as perception, evaluation, decision making, action etc. The political emotion is far distant from the common use, there is a crucial distinction between proper political emotions and politically relevant emotion, and hence the modern society made a clear boundary between the political field and other sociological spaces. Socio-political emotions systematically activated and demands interplay of political psychology and political sociology.


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Lulu Farshana M
Research Scholar
Department of Humanities and Social Science
MANIT Bhopal
Pin: 462003
Ph: +91 8075221693
ORCID: 0000-0003-1053-1422