Accounting for emotion
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In this research I examine how people respond to the disclosure of an anti-social behavior. Specifically, I study how the emotion display by a person confessing to a harmful behavior influences techniques used by observers to redefine the situation. Using vignette data, I find support for the notion that individuals engage in strategies to ensure smooth interaction. When the actor’s emotion is consistent with emotion norms, observers redefine the situation, making accounts for the actor’s behavior and/or emotion. However, when the actor displays a socially inappropriate emotion following admitting to a harmful behavior, observers make errors in recalling the details of the event. Though both accounts and recall errors are strategies for redefining a situation, accounts only are used to manage another’s identity. These findings provide insight into the conditions under which people work to manage other’s identities. Additionally, I demonstrate that emotions play an important role in recalling events.