Express Yourself? Political Conversation, Emotion Regulation, and the Expression of Political Emotions

Christina M. Henry, William P. Eveland, Jr.


This study answers two key questions: (1) which emotions lead to what kinds of political talk and (2) when do these emotions lead to political talk? We employ a novel approach to understanding the relationship between emotion and communication by assessing the role of emotion regulation (ER) ability and group-based motives for regulation, using Intergroup Emotions Theory and theories of motivated emotion regulation. Using a nationally representative sample of parents during the 2016 U.S. election, we find that the link between emotion and talk depends on the kind of talk considered, the type of emotion, and its consistency with one’s partisan identity. We discuss the utility of these approaches in specifying the relationship between emotion and communication and the implications of an ER approach for communication across contexts and modalities. This study contributes to a theoretical understanding of emotion and talk in a highly partisan and polarized context.


political communication, motivations for discussion, emotion, affective intelligence theory

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