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Expressive Dissonance: When Emotional Inconsistency Arouses Dissonance

Abstract : The aim of the two studies was to explore a new dissonance paradigm–expressive dissonance–based on the inconsistency between what people feel and what people express behaviorally. Expressive dissonance was aroused by asking participants to watch a film with a high emotional content, either positive (joy) or negative (sadness). In the no-dissonance condition, they received the instruction to naturally watch the film. In the expressive dissonance condition, they received the instruction to facially express emotions that were the opposite of what they felt. We expected that the expressive dissonance situation would: 1) require cognitive resources leading to a decrease in cognitive performance (studies 1 and 2); 2) be accompanied by emotional regulation strategies (study 1); 3) be accompanied by an increase in dissonance-related affects (study 2). Although our results (studies 1 and 2) corroborated those obtained previously in terms of performance, they also showed that participants in the expressive dissonance situation use emotional regulation strategies: exaggeration and suppression (study 1), and that they felt self-directed negative affects (study 2), just like the participants in a cognitive dissonance situation. These first results allowed us to establish a theoretical bridge between the theories of emotions–particularly those related to the emotional regulation processes–and to widen the scope of relevance of the dissonance theory.
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Audrey Pelt, Laura Barbier, Valérie Fointiat. Expressive Dissonance: When Emotional Inconsistency Arouses Dissonance. Revue Internationale de Psychologie Sociale = International review of social psychology, Presses Universitaires de Grenoble, 2018, 31 (1), pp.1-11. ⟨10.5334/irsp.118⟩. ⟨hal-01796546⟩



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