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The affective foundations of sociality: Language, physiology and social differences (411)

What are our affective reactions to linguistic representations of social interaction? What is the role of automatic bodily reactions in these processes? And do patterns of such reactions systematically differ between socio-economic status groups?

The project investigates variations in the affective foundations of sociality between individuals with different socio-economic backgrounds. In a representative survey, we will measure the affective meanings of words from two semantic categories corresponding to basic dimensions of sociality: authority and community.

We assume that these meanings are the result of subjective experiences in social interactions. As such, they constitute a kind of (implicit) social knowledge that may differ between groups of people with different socio-economic backgrounds. To examine the relationship between affective meanings and social interactions, we run computer simulations based on Affect Control Theory to assess emotional consequences of prototypical sequences of social interaction. Moreover, we investigate the neural and physiological correlates of the affective experience of linguistic representations of social interactions. We measure electroencephalographic (EEG) activity and electrodermal responses (EDR) of subjects from different socio-economic backgrounds while reading words and descriptions of social interactions. We hypothesize systematic co-variations of social status indicators with affective connotations, emotional outcomes of social interaction and neurophysiological measures.