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Brian Parkinson

BA PhD in Psychology, Manchester University

Professor of Social Psychology

  • Director of Graduate Studies

Social Psychology

Research Summary

My research focuses on how our emotions affect other people (and how they affect other people’s emotions).  The guiding idea is that emotions align and configure our relations with other people and regulate their orientations towards objects and events in the environment.  For example, I may express worry to a friend as a way of getting them to consider a previously underestimated threat, or get angry with someone to indicate that they should feel guilty and make reparations.  Attention to the interpersonal context for emotion expression may permit us to understand some of the maladaptive effects of certain otherwise functionally useful emotions, and to improve emotional communication in close relationships.  My current research uses experimental, observational, and diary-based methods.  For example, recent studies have focused on how expressed worry or anxiety affects other people.  My experiments show that expressed anxiety leads other people to moderate their risk-taking when losses are not their central focus.  Further, a recent observational study of romantic partners discussing shared concerns indicates that people use worry and calm expression to regulate their partners’ emotions, and that the way they do this depends on the characteristic level of expressiveness and emotional engagement of their partners.  Individuals who show less emotion tend to elicit greater worry presentation from their partners.  These processes also operate differently in men and women.

Key publications

Recent publications

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