Sad people should be treated nicely: how mood influences politeness

Martijn Goudbeek, Monique Pollmann

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractOther research output


Emotions have a large impact on our behavior. For example, when in a positive mood, we talk more, we reveal more about ourselves and we see conflicts as caused by external sources and not as fundamental problems. But in a positive mood we are also less likely to take the perspective of another person and our language tends to be more ambiguous and thus harder to understand. There are many studies that investigate how mood affects our communication, but these studies generally only focus on the sender and not on the receiver. In this contribution, we investigate how the emotion of the receiver influences communication. Using Experimental Vignette Methodology, Participants (N=202) were asked to deliver a negative message ("you did not get the job") by email. Crucially, the negative news was delivered to a receiver that was described as either happy, sad, angry, or neutral. The results show that, indeed, the emotional state of the receiver affects the message of the sender. Concretely, we show that senders formulate a message that is more polite when the receiver is in a sad state, as compared to a happy or angry state. These findings extend earlier work on the role of emotion in interpersonal communication, as described in frameworks such as EASI (Emotions as Agents of Social Influence, Van Kleef, 2009, 2014) that try to account for the role of affect in interpersonal communication . In addition to these results we will also present a replication of the current study and ongoing work in which we study the effect in a more natural setting.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventICSI 2019 Regional Conference: (Re-)Connecting Perspectives on Interpersonal Communication and Social Interaction - Tilburg Univesity, Tilburg, Netherlands
Duration: 14 Oct 201916 Oct 2019


ConferenceICSI 2019 Regional Conference
Abbreviated titleICSI / ECREA


  • Interpersonal communication
  • Emotion
  • Affect
  • Politeness


Dive into the research topics of 'Sad people should be treated nicely: how mood influences politeness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this