What is it about?

How people react emotionally to an event can tell us much about the event itself. However, emotions vary in how much information about the situation they provide. Emotions that provide less information forces observes to rely more on context information when making sense of the situation than emotions that are more informative. This idea was tested by having participants evaluate the quality of a player’s performance based on the emotional reactions of spectators to an unknown ball game. Spectators reacted either with awe (high in information), or with happiness or neutrality (low in information). Participant also received context information. The findings supported the predictions and illustrate how emotions and context interact to inform us about events.

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Why is it important?

Emotions are an important source of information on which people rely much. Understanding when and how people make use of emotions to figure out what is going on is important. The present paper suggest that a distinction can be made between emotions as a function of their informativeness. This has implications on the use of context information to complete the information provided by the emotions.


Enjoyed working on this project especially since it required creative work to design the studies and the stimulus material.

Professor Shlomo Hareli
University of Haifa

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Drawing inferences from emotion expressions: The role of situative informativeness and context., Emotion, March 2018, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/emo0000368.
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