Chapter 9: Emotions

Have you ever been at a movie and let out a bellowing laugh and snort only to realize no one else is laughing? Have you ever gotten uncomfortable when someone cries in class or in a public place? Emotions are clearly personal because they often project what we’re feeling on the inside to those around us, whether we want it to show or not. Emotions are also interpersonal in that another person’s show of emotion usually triggers a reaction from us—perhaps support if the person is a close friend or awkwardness if the person is a stranger. Emotions are central to any interpersonal relationship, and it’s important to know what causes and influences emotions so we can better understand and express our own emotions and better respond to others when they display emotions. In this chapter, we will discuss the dimensions of emotions, perspectives on emotions, and ways to more effectively understand, express, and respond to emotions. We will also explore some contextual considerations, and reflect on the impact of our own emotional expression.


Essential Questions:

  • What is the relationship between emotions and interpersonal communication?
  • How can we express and respond to emotions effectively?

Successful students will be able to:

  • recognize dimensions of emotions
  • identify perspective on emotions
  • demonstrate skills of understanding, expressing and responding to emotions
  • explain how culture influences emotional expressions
  • recognize several ways emotional expression affects us, others and our relationships

  • Sections: 9.0 – 9.3.1,, & adapted from Communication in the Real World: An Introduction to Communication Studies; University of Minnesota; 2016; CC BY NC SA 4.0
  • Sections:,, & Interpersonal Communication Abridged Textbook (I.C.A.T.); Central New Mexico Community College; 2019; CC BY NC SA 4.0
  • Sections: & adapted from WikiHow; CC BY NC SA 3.0
  • Sections: & adapted from Wikipedia; CC BY SA 4.0


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