How Positive Social Emotions Motivate Actions for the Future Self

Lisa A. Williams and David DeSteno

in Positive Emotion

Published in print January 2014 | ISBN: 9780199926725
Published online April 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780199394531 | DOI:
How Positive Social Emotions Motivate Actions for the Future Self

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Strong social relationships, goal-attainment, and feeling esteemed by peers are critical components of adaptive social life and well-being. This chapter provides an overview of how positive social emotions motivate behaviors that lead to such benefits. In particular, this chapter will focus on how positive social emotions foster forward-looking social motivations (e.g., perseverance, leadership, prosocial behavior and affiliation). Despite carrying costs for the current self, such motivations have beneficial payoffs for the future self (e.g., skill attainment, social esteem, and rewarding social relationships). The process of weighing costs and benefits for the current self against those for the future self is termed intertemporal choice. This chapter reviews a growing corpus of empirical research on the functions of the positive social emotions pride and gratitude in shaping intertemporal choice toward the future-self. We review how both trait-like dispositions and the moment-to-moment experience of these emotions enact such outcomes. We conclude by suggesting new avenues for scientific inquiry into the “light side” of positive social emotions.

Keywords: social emotions; pride; gratitude; intertemporal choice; social bonds; social esteem; goal pursuit

Chapter.  10457 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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