Affective Dynamics on Campus: Behavior, Emotion, and Event Likelihood
Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Hörsaal 4C KS (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
This research examines how campus cultures guide interpersonal behavior and emotion, and tests affect control theory’s predictions of about interaction dynamics. Students at three colleges reported their sentiments for race, gender, sexual, and institutional identities. The stimulus list was compiled through a review of institutional documents, observations of student interaction, and discussions with students at each college. Student sentiments were used to predict typical role relationships between members of various identity groups, and to simulate likely interaction patterns and emotional experiences. In a follow-up study, students at each college rated the perceived likelihood of given events to examine the validity of simulation results. Randomly-selected social events were compared to events generated using respondent sentiments on several dimensions predicted to contribute to perceived likelihood: normativity or appropriateness, frequency or commonality in social life, personal familiarity or experience, likelihood of social interaction between the two parties involved, and likelihood of a given behavior in an interaction between the two parties involved. Respondents also provided a rating of overall event likelihood, of the type used in earlier research.
The research offers insight into three main issues. First, it demonstrates that patterns of meaning may vary in subtle but important ways between institutions of higher learning, with important implications for students’ interaction patterns and emotional experiences. Second, it provides a test of simulation results generated with affect control theory models, demonstrating that events high in deflection (a mathematical indicator of discrepancy with shared cultural meanings) are indeed perceived to be less likely than those low in deflection (which fit more closely with the meanings held by students at a given institution). Third, it disambiguates the meaning of deflection in affect control theory research, by determining which aspects of event likelihood appear to be most salient in driving our motivation for social meaning maintenance.