When do feelings help us? The interpersonal functions of emotions Chapter uri icon


  • 2015 by Nova Science Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Whether emotions help us or hurt us has been debated for centuries, starting with early philosophers and carrying through to present-day experimental psychology. The purpose of this chapter is to review some of the potentially functional aspects of discrete emotions specific to interpersonal interactions. We first define what is meant by 'functional.' We then review research findings that suggest several emotions are beneficial to interpersonal interactions, in that both expressing emotions to others and recognizing emotions in others can result in better outcomes. We detail several emotions that meet these criteria, taking care to note how negative emotions fit into a functional framework. Specifically, we review theoretical and empirical evidence of how anger, sadness, and jealousy are functional, despite feeling aversive; we apply these emotions to multiple contexts, such as negotiations, friendships, and close relationships. Finally, we address the elements that may predict dysfunction of emotion, appropriateness and duration, and discuss what a functional perspective is not.

author list (cited authors)

  • Tibbett, T. P., & Lench, H. C.

complete list of authors

  • Tibbett, TP||Lench, HC

Book Title

  • Advances in Psychology Research

publication date

  • April 2015