The Social Sharing of Emotions in Interpersonal and in Collective Situations: Common Psychosocial Consequences

  • Bernard Rimé
  • Dario Paez
  • Patrick Kanyangara
  • Vincent Yzerbyt


When individuals face an emotional experience, they very generally talk about it later with people around them in an interpersonal process which has been called “the social sharing of emotion.” When groups, communities, or societies face an important collective emotional episode, they also quite generally later develop emotional expression in collective situations, such as commemorations, celebrations, religious ceremonies, and other social rituals. In both cases, a very common answer to the question of the motives underlying this need to socially share emotional experiences advocates cathartic effects of the verbal expression of emotion. Thus, lay persons as well as professionals often consider that once an emotion is shared, it vanishes. It is thought that the resulting feeling of relief would motivate people to socially share future emotional experiences. This chapter describes the studies which assessed the prediction that the mere expression of an emotion brings emotional recovery. The cathartic hypothesis was supported neither for person to person emotional sharing situations, nor for collective emotional expression. However, participants in social sharing situations reported important social benefits. We thus investigated the source of these benefits as well as the conditions under which sharing an emotion would bring actual recovery.


Negative Emotion Emotional Experience Social Integration Posttraumatic Growth Transitional Justice 


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Copyright information

© Springer New York 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernard Rimé
    • 1
  • Dario Paez
  • Patrick Kanyangara
  • Vincent Yzerbyt
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium

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