Status, gender, and the politics of emotional authenticity

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In this chapter, we focus on observations of emotional authenticity in everyday social relations: what criteria do observers use to determine whether another’s emotions are authentic or not? And, what are the consequences of their perceptions? We emphasize that the observer’s perception of emotional authenticity is important for the study of social relations, but that these perceptions are disputable. As a result, assessments of emotional authenticity are potential areas of contention. We then contextualize perceptions of emotional authenticity in terms of the role that these perceptions play in competition for status and power. We examine how status-related biases and motivational factors affect perceptions of emotional authenticity, and in particular, we focus on biases concerning gender. We examine these biases through the dimensions of emotional authenticity identified by Salmela (2005): sincerity, rationality, and autonomy. We conclude with a brief discussion of the consequences that such observations have for targets and the question that ultimately arises from perceptions of emotional authenticity: who precisely holds the right to determine authentic emotion.


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