Misery loves company: When sadness increases the desire for social connectedness

  • Gray H
  • Ishii K
  • Ambady N
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Abstract

In three experiments, the authors investigated the effects of sadness on the desire for social connectedness. They hypothesized that sadness serves an adaptive function by motivating people to reach out to others and preferentially attend to information related to one's current level of social connectedness, but only when it is instigated by social loss. Consistent with this hypothesis, the authors observed that sadness induced by an emotional depiction of social loss enhanced (a) attention to nonverbal cues, an important source of information concerning an individual's current level of social connectedness (Experiment 1), and (b) the desire to engage in social behaviors (Experiment 2). In Experiment 3 the authors found that sadness that results from imagined social loss uniquely produced this pattern of effects. Sadness that resulted from imagined failure had different effects on motivation and no effect on sensitivity to nonverbal cues. These results support and refine functional explanations for the universality of sadness.

Author-supplied keywords

  • affiliation
  • nonverbal communication
  • sadness
  • situation-symptom congruence hypothesis
  • vocal tone

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Authors

  • Heather M. Gray

  • Keiko Ishii

  • Nalini Ambady

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