• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

To Learn What Emotions Are and What They Do

Seger Breugelmans
Seger Breugelmans
On September 25, 2013, the HSE International Laboratory for Socio-cultural Research will conduct its regular seminar ‘Culture Matters’. Marcel Zeelenberg, Head of Department of Social Psychology and Seger Breugelmans PhD, Professors of the Tilburg University (the Netherlands), will speak on ‘Emotion and Decision Making: A Feeling is for Doing Approach’. They gave a special interview for the HSE news service.

— Was your decision to choose this topic for research emotional or rational?

We have become interested in studying the effects of emotion in decision making because models of rational choice do a bad job explaining the behavior of individuals. We believe that emotions provide insight into people's goals and concerns and as such they provide an important input in everyday decision processes.

— How would you explain the idea of "a feeling is for doing approach" in a few words for non-specialists?

If one wishes to understand emotions, what they are and what they do, it is instructive to study how they are felt. Our approach is influenced by Nico Frijda's emotion theory and William James' ideas about pragmatism. We believe that emotions are signals about our concerns being threatened (or served), and that emotions also provide information about what to do to in order to achieve our goals (or continue to achieve our goals). In short, we think that emotions have evolved to provide behavioral guidance.

— What are the major findings in your research?

Specific emotions that resemble each other, such as regret and disappointment, or guilt and shame, still involve different experiences and hence also prioritize different behaviors to act on the concerns that are represented by the different emotions. We have now applied our theory to these emotions, and to envy, pride, greed and anger. The results are remarkable, and we continue to learn and be amazed by what emotions are and what they do. The study of emotions, in particular that of their behavioral consequences, proves to be rewarding and inspiring and there is still enough to do.

— What are the criteria chosen in your research? How do you prove your findings?

Marcel Zeelenberg
Marcel Zeelenberg

We are eclectic in our research. We do experiments in which we induce emotions and investigate how they influence behavior, but we also do survey research in which we ask about autobiographical recalls of emotions experiences. And, we also study the effects of emotion cross culturally. Together, these findings ideally triangulate and provide insight into the behavioral effects of specific emotions.

— How did your cooperation with the HSE start? What are the goals and further plans?

We first came to HSE in 2012 and taught about economic psychology and behavioral economics. We were very satisfied with this experience and the mutual interest in economic behavior and cross cultural studies. We hope to extend this collaboration in research and a dual degree program with Tilburg University and HSE. Russia is a huge country with an impressive history in psychology and we think that Tilburg University and HSE can cooperate and join forces to our joint benefit.

Anna Chernyakhovskaya, especially for HSE news service

See also:

Psychologists Study Daydreaming in Russian Cultural Context

Researchers at HSE University, having examined the role of daydreaming in the Russian cultural context, conclude that constructive daydreaming can help people with gaining insight into their life's trajectory, fostering personal growth, discovering existential meaning, enhancing psychological wellbeing, and cultivating a balanced temporal perspective. The study findings have been published in Cultural-Historical Psychology.

Totally Focused: Movie Nights at Pokrovka

In April, the HSE building on Pokrovka hosted two movie nights: one on the Day of Russian Animation, and other on the Day of Culture. The events allowed international students to get acquainted with Russian culture through works of cinematography. Each student enjoyed popcorn while studying detailed information about the movie on special printouts.

Workaholism Helps Young Narcissists Boost New Venture Performance

An international team of researchers including Professor Galina Shirokova, Director of the Strategic Entrepreneurship Centre at HSE University in St Petersburg, and her students Nailya Galieva and Diana Doktorova, examined the impact of narcissism on young entrepreneurs' success. The authors have demonstrated that a company founder's workaholism can amplify the influence of narcissism on a new venture's performance. 

Plurilingualism Compensates for Low Extraversion in Nurturing Creative Skills

Researchers at the HSE Laboratory for Linguistic, Intercultural, and Creative Competencies have examined the role of the Big Five personality traits in moderating the development of creativity among individuals who use multiple languages and have intercultural experiences. It has been found that acquiring multiple languages and engaging with diverse cultures can enhance an individual's creativity and compensate for some deficiencies in communicative abilities. That said, language practices are likely to foster creativity only in mentally stable individuals. The paper has been published in the International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism.

Fuad Aleskerov: 'Decision-Making under Deep Uncertainty'

In an interview for HSE News Service, Fuad Aleskerov, Distinguished Professor of HSE University and Member of Academia Europaea, shares his insights into making decisions under deep uncertainty, highlights the crucial role of cooperation in this context, and unveils plans for the upcoming launch of a specialised course on decision-making and the establishment of a mirror laboratory at HSE University.

Attainment of Happiness in Psychologically Mature Individuals Linked to Pursuit of Meaning

Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl believed that the quest for meaning constitutes a fundamental and intrinsic motivation for all human beings. Some other authors suggest that the need for meaning or purpose only emerges at higher levels of personality development. According to a team of psychologists from HSE and the University of Paris Nanterre, individuals who have achieved higher levels of ego development are inclined to relinquish hedonistic motives in favour of cultivating mindfulness and embarking on a quest for meaning. These findings have been published in Frontiers in Psychology.

Married Men Less Prone to Workplace Burnout

Greater marital satisfaction lowers the risk of professional burnout, with this correlation being more pronounced among men than women. This is a conclusion made by HSE psychologists after conducting a study on the effect of social interactions on workplace burnout on a sample of 203 employees from several Russian companies. According to the researchers, gaining a better understanding of the specific aspects of burnout experienced by individuals makes it possible to address this syndrome more effectively. The paper has been published in Organizational Psychology.

HSE Psychologists Propose New Approach to Building Soft Skills

Researchers at HSE's School of Psychology have used the findings of studies into creativity and multilingualism to develop 'Plurilingual Intercultural Creative Keys’ (PICK), a new programme which integrates both aspects into the teaching and learning process. The study results have been published in Psychology. Journal of the Higher School of Economics.

Card File: Plurilingual Creativity

Fluency in foreign languages has multiple advantages in terms of cognitive abilities, communication skills, cultural awareness, and career advancement. But can bilingualism and plurilingualism (knowledge of multiple languages and related cultural contexts) contribute to creative thinking and one's ability to generate new ideas? Studies have shown that linguistic, intercultural and creative competencies are interrelated, and their synergy can give rise to plurilingual creativity. The following overview is based on several papers by Anatoly Kharkhurin, Director of the HSE Laboratory for Linguistic, Intercultural and Creative Competencies.

Readers Found to Rely on Word Spelling Rather Than Sound in Reading

Skilled readers are known to extract information not only from the word they are looking at but from the one directly following it. This phenomenon is called pre-processing. Researchers from the HSE Centre for Language and Brain analysed the eye movements of primary school children and adults during silent reading and found both groups to rely on orthographic, rather than phonological, information in pre-processing an upcoming word. The study has been published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.