Research Topic

Everyday Beliefs about Emotion: Their Role in Subjective Experience, Emotion as an Interpersonal Process, and Emotion Theory

About this Research Topic

Lay beliefs about emotion reflect everyday ideas about what causes emotion, how and why emotions differ, what one should or should not do about an emotion, and more. These widely held and culturally-specific beliefs about emotion have a profound effect on people’s understanding of and reactions to their own ...

Lay beliefs about emotion reflect everyday ideas about what causes emotion, how and why emotions differ, what one should or should not do about an emotion, and more. These widely held and culturally-specific beliefs about emotion have a profound effect on people’s understanding of and reactions to their own and others’ emotion, including inferences that people make about others’ emotions, personality, and behavior. For example, people infer honesty and genuineness based on how a person displays emotions, and believe these displays indicate how dominant or affiliative a person will behave. In addition, emotion researchers are located within a cultural context, thus lay beliefs may also have unintended influence on the formulation of emotion theory or empirical research questions and techniques.

Research on lay beliefs about emotion has been a presence in emotion research since at least the 1960s when linguist George Lakoff published his influential analysis of emotion metaphors in everyday language. Meanwhile, the study of emotion has become increasingly popular and complex since the mid-1980s, with significant work undertaken across the social and behavioral sciences and neuroscience. It is noteworthy, then, that there has not yet been a compilation of research on lay beliefs about emotion, nor a systematic exploration of the relation between lay beliefs and scientific theory and research on emotion.

In this Research Topic, we aim to bring together researchers to initiate examination of the role played by lay beliefs in each of three areas of emotion research. First, what role do lay beliefs play in how individuals experience, label, or interpret their own or others’ emotional experience? Second, what role do beliefs about emotion play in the unfolding of emotion as an interpersonal process? That is, in which contexts do we see the influence of culturally-based beliefs on emotion as it emerges in the individual’s emotional or affective relation to and interaction with others? Which are the most productive ways to theorize how these culturally situated beliefs exert their influence? Third, in what ways are lay beliefs about emotion influential in emotion theory and research practices? Specifically, in what ways do lay beliefs circulate into the development of theory and color empirical research? The questions outlined here are not exhaustive but, represent the major themes we wish to address.

We encourage original research articles from all areas of social and behavioral science and neuroscience. Contributions from philosophy, history, or literary studies are also welcome as they bear on the core themes addressed in this Research Topic. We are eager to receive mixed and multi-method papers. Submissions may take the form of reports of theoretically-grounded empirical studies; research literature or historical reviews, particularly as they point toward theory development; meta-analysis; and methodological articles. Brief commentaries or theoretical pieces will be considered if novel and generative.


Keywords: Emotion Regulation, Emotion Expression, Emotional Experience, Emotion Language, Lay Theories of Emotion


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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