Emotion displays do not only signal emotions but also have social signal value. A study was conducted to test the hypothesis that expressing anger when complaining may lead to positive outcomes for the complainant because anger signals goal obstruction and hence the presence of real harm. The results suggest that the social signal value of anger enhances the credibility of the complainant and hence leads to better compensation, but only when the complaint itself presents room for doubt. For highly justified complaints the additional expression of anger does not add information and is discounted. In contrast, showing an affiliative-smiling demeanor was found to enhance credibility for both types of complaints. Overall, the present research confirmed the important role of emotion expressions as social signals. © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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