The social signal value of emotions

Shlomo Hareli, Ursula Hess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human interactions are replete with emotional exchanges. In these exchanges information about the emotional state of the interaction partners is only one type of information conveyed. In addition, emotion displays provide information about the interaction partners' disposition and the situation as such. That is, emotions serve as social signals. Acknowledging this role of emotions, this special section brings together research that illustrates how both person perception and situational understanding can be derived from emotional displays and the modulation of this process through context. Three contributions focus on information about expressers and their intentions. An additional article focuses on the informative value of emotional expressions for an observer's construal of social situations and another article exemplifies the way context determines the social impact of emotions. Finally, the last article presents the dynamic nature of mutual influence of emotions. In an attempt to integrate these contributions and offer lenses for future research, this editorial offers a contextualised model of social perception which attempts to systematise not only the types of information that emotion expressions can convey, but also to elaborate the notion of context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-389
Number of pages5
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • Emotion perception
  • Emotion theory
  • Social inferences
  • Social perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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