Emotional expressions support the communication of social groups: A pragmatic extension of affective pragmatics

R. Thora Bjornsdottir, Nicholas O. Rule

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Comments on an article by Andrea Scarantino (see record 2017-36101-012). Expanding on linguistic frameworks for how speakers use speech acts to convey a variety of distinct meanings that are unachievable through words’ denotations alone, Andrea Scarantino (this issue) proposes the theory of affective pragmatics (TAP) as a means to explain what signalers do with their emotions to nonverbally convey nuance in meaning. TAP provides a useful framework for understanding how facial expressions of emotion can convey ambiguous social group memberships. Based on our research and that of others only scantly touched earlier in this commentary, we agree with Scarantino that emotional expressions indeed provide information about more than just emotional states. They may, in some instances, represent complete communicative signals (as Scarantino has shown) and can help to convey or clarify the social groups to which an individual may belong. Facial expressions of emotion therefore function as Speech Act Analogs not only to emotion-relevant but also to group-related verbal expressions of one’s desires, one’s intentions, and one’s status in the social world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-189
Number of pages4
JournalPsychological Inquiry
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2017

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