Emotion structure, emotion meaning and emotion episodes of white Afrikaans–speaking working adults
Van der Merwe, Aletta Sophia
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Emotion research is an important research topic, thus making the measurement of emotion in the workplace crucial. In attempting to study, understand and measure the role of emotions in the human condition, various researchers have identified different theoretical models to manage the information they have gathered and the observations they have made. In order to study or scientifically investigate any human behaviour, it is essential that such behaviour can be measured, if not quantitatively, then at least qualitatively. However, what one finds with regard to emotion research and measurement are two–dimensional models. The existing affect has been described with a choice of two dimensions and structures, i.e. circumplex, positive and negative affect, tense and energetic arousal, and eight combinations of pleasantness and activation. These two dimensions and structures measure a person’s experiences and, thereafter, report them. The question is if these two–dimensional emotion models are sufficient to cover the broad and often complex dynamics of emotions. The start of multiple–emotion dimension models were reported by researchers, who identified a three–dimensional structure in the emotion domain that is suggestive of the Evaluation–Potency–Activation (EPA) dimensions in the connotative or affective meaning of words. However, in recent studies the sufficiency of two–dimension models to comprehensively investigate emotions was questioned. The three–dimensional emotion model was replicated in cross–cultural similarity sorting studies by other researchers. The similarity sorting studies also indicate the importance of studying emotions in specific cultural contexts. Studying emotion in different cultures is especially relevant in a country such as South Africa that has a variety of cultures and eleven official languages. Researchers followed an approach that studied the meaning of emotion in different cultural groups in the context of 144 emotion features using a componential emotion theory approach. Researchers argue in the groundbreaking research that was published in Psychological Science that emotion meaning has more than only two dimensions. The approach postulated by researchers was tested in a student population of three language groups, namely Dutch–, Englishand French–speaking students. According to researchers this is an empirical and theoretical method to study the meaning of emotions across cultures. However, apart from studying the meaning of emotions in specific cultural groups, research also attempts to determine the meaning of emotion in the natural contexts in which they occur. The relevant natural contexts for the field of Industrial Psychology are the work contexts. It is therefore also important to investigate the categories of emotion episodes in the work environment. The general goal of this study was therefore a) to investigate the emotion lexicon in the white Afrikaans–speaking working adult language group, b) to determine the cognitive emotion structure of this cultural group, c) to investigate the meaning of emotion as comprehensively as possible (multidimensional models of the meaning of emotion), and d) to determine the meaning and content of emotion episodes in the workplace. Research Article 1 The research was subsequently presented in two independent phases. Firstly, a free listing of emotion terms was compiled, and secondly the emotion terms were prototypically rated by Afrikaans–speaking people in South Africa. Both of these were then used as measuring instruments. A survey was designed to explore the research objectives utilising availability samples in two studies. The participants in the free–listing (N=70) and in the prototypicality (N=70) study consisted of native Afrikaans–speaking employees. The sample consisted of participants from the white ethnic group speaking Afrikaans within the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Free State, Mpumalanga, North–West and KZN provinces and use was made of an availability sample. After conducting the research, the emotion terms with the highest frequency, as identified during the first study, the free listing task, were to be happy (gelukkig wees), be sad (hartseer wees), love (liefde), anger (kwaad) and hateful (haatlik). The emotion terms with the lowest scores as identified during the free listing were uncomfortable (ongemaklik), painful (seer), be hurt (seergemaak wees), sympathetic (simpatiek) and shout/yell (skreeu). Correspondingly, the five (5) prototypical terms with the highest scores in Afrikaans were nice (lekker), fed–up/had enough (gatvol/“genoeg gehad”), loveable (liefdevol), anger (kwaad) and to be scared (om bang te wees). The five (5) least prototypical terms from the list generated in the free listing task were: unstable (onvas), bashfulness (skugterheid), captivation (geboeidheid), envy (naywer) and delight (opgetoënheid). From the information obtained in this research it was revealed that the emotion terms nice (lekker), fed up/had enough (gatvol/“genoeg gehad”) and loveable (liefdevol) are at this stage unique to the white Afrikaans language group. These terms had not been reported in any previously conducted prototypical studies. The results of this study contribute to a cross–cultural understanding of the emotion concepts within the Afrikaans–speaking language groups in South Africa. Research Article 2 A survey design was used to achieve the research objectives utilising availability samples in a series of one study. The participants of the Similarity study (N=131) consisted of native Afrikaans–speaking employees. The sample consisted of participants from the white ethnicity group speaking Afrikaans within the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Free State, Mpumalanga, North–West, KZN and Northern Cape provinces and use was made of an availability sample. Results of Multidimensional Scaling revealed a three–dimensional cognitive emotion structure. The first dimension was the evaluation–pleasantness dimension. This dimension evaluates the pleasantness versus the unpleasantness of an emotion. This dimension is characterised by intrinsic appraisals of pleasantness and goal conduciveness and action tendencies of approach versus avoidance. The second dimension that emerged was a power–control dimension. This dimension is characterised by appraisals of control, how powerful or weak a person feels when a particular emotion is experienced. This includes feelings of dominance or submission, the impulse to act or withdraw and changes in speech and parasymphatic symptoms. The third dimension which emerged was an activation–arousal dimension. According to other researchers this arousal dimension is characterised by sympathetic arousal, e.g. rapid heartbeat and readiness for action. This study produced a cognitive emotion structure in a white Afrikaans–speaking working adult population in South Africa. To add value to the field of Industrial Psychology, the three dimension structure (evaluation–pleasantness, power–control and activation–arousal dimension) that was found, is very important and valuable when studying the meaning of emotion and can consequently be used as a reference for other emotion research constructs. If it is accurate as stated in literature, there are three and not only two emotion dimension structures, and researchers are missing out on a bigger picture for not drawing on the experience of emotion sufficiently. Research Article 3 A survey design and an availability sample (N=120) in the Eastern Cape, Free State and Gauteng provinces in South Africa was utilised for this study. The Meaning Grid was translated and backtranslated and adapted for use in Afrikaans. The Cronbach's alpha coefficients were obtained for the emotion terms. According to the results of the Meaning Grid instrument, the following emotion terms were the highest: disgust (afkeur) 0,95; pleasure (plesier) 0,94; stress (stres) 0,92; happiness (blydskap) 0,91; joy (vreugde) 0,91; fear (bang) 0,91; anger (angstig) 0,91 and hate (haat) 0,90. The emotion terms that scored the lowest with the Meaning Grid instrument were compassion (medelye) 0,79; pride (trots) 0,79 and contempt (minagting) 0,74. Out of the 24 emotion terms of the Meaning Grid instrument, 8 terms were above 0,90 and 13 were between 0,80 and 0,89. Only 3 terms were between 0,74 and 0,79 [compassion (medelye), pride (trots) and contempt (minagting)]. A three–factor solution was found which represented four emotion dimensions (evaluation, arousal/unpredictability and power) that were universal to the emotion structures found in European samples. Factor scores of the 24 Meaning Grid emotions indicate a three–factor solution that explained 62,2 % of the total variance. The first factor was labelled evaluation and explained 43,0% of the variance, the second factor was labelled arousal/unpredictability as it was a combination of arousal and unpredictability and explained 11,0% of the variance, and the third factor was labelled power and explained 8,2% of the variance. This study followed an approach that investigated the meaning structure of emotion in the sample group in the context of 144 emotion features using a componential emotion theory approach. Different researchers argued that emotion meaning has more than only two dimensions. A three–dimensional emotion structure was found that was universal to the emotion structures of three language groups in a European sample. Therefore, the meaning of emotions for this sample group is far more complex than the two–dimensional emotion models that are found in literature. According to the componential emotion theory approach, the 144 emotion features are very important building blocks for Industrial Psychology when studying the meaning of emotion. Research Article 4 A survey design was used in this research study. The Episode Meaning Grid was administered and participants reported on the two intense emotion experiences at work (in total 358 episodes). Employees rated their emotion experiences on features based on the componential emotion theory and also described the emotion events in their own words. The participants in the emotion episodes (N=179) study consisted of native white Afrikaans–speaking working adults. The sample consisted of participants from the white ethnicity group speaking Afrikaans within the Eastern Cape, Free State and North–West provinces and use was made of an availability sample. The results indicated a three–dimensional structure (evaluation–pleasantness, activation–arousal and power–control dimension) was identified within a white Afrikaans–speaking working adult language group. The first dimension was an evaluation–pleasantness dimension. The second dimension was an activation–arousal dimension. The third dimension was a power–control dimension. Regarding the reporting of emotion episodes one hundred and ninety seven respondents reported 84 satisfying emotion episodes and 267 less satisfying emotion episodes that took place at work. Nine different categories of episodes for satisfying emotions experienced were mentioned. It consists of behaviour of work colleagues, acts of boss/superior/management, goal achievement, receiving recognition, workplace policy, task recognition, personal incidents, emotion involvement and subordinate behaviour. The three highest categories of satisfying emotions episodes were “Goal Achievement” (N=31), “Receiving Recognition” (N=20) and “Personal Incidents” (N=10). Goal achievement describes situations where job related targets or goals were met, and receiving recognition refers to positive feedback from managers, supervisors and work colleagues on meeting targets. Nineteen different categories of episodes for less satisfying emotion episodes were mentioned. It consists of behaviour of work colleagues, acts of boss/superior/management, lack of goal achievement, lack of receiving recognition, workplace policy, task requirement, personal incidents, emotional involvement, subordinate behaviour, workload, work mistakes, customer behaviour, external environment, lack of control, physical well–being, involvement in disciplinary action, workplace strikes, wellness of colleagues and unfairness in the workplace. In the categories of less satisfying emotions episodes, the three highest were “Behaviour of Work Colleagues” (N=58), “Acts of Boss/Superior/Management” (N=47) and “Task Requirement” (N=33). The first two categories are appraised less satisfying behaviour towards oneself or others by work colleagues, managers, supervisors and customers. In terms of the categories of satisfying and less satisfying emotions episodes, less satisfying emotion episodes outnumbered satisfying emotions episodes by three to one. By making use of a multi–componential emotion model, the results confirm that the four factors of pleasantness, power, arousal, and unpredictability, in that order of importance, are essential to satisfactorily determine the emotion experience and meaning of emotion terms. A three dimensional emotion structure (evaluation, arousal and power) was found after determining the meaning of emotion in the natural contexts in which they occur. The answer to the question if these two–dimensional emotion models, as stated in literature, are sufficient to cover the broad and often complex dynamics of emotion, is certainly no. Recommendations for the organisation and future research were made.
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