Why Seemingly Trivial Events Sometimes Evoke Strong Emotional Reactions: The Role of Social Exchange Rule Violations.


Journal Article

People sometimes display strong emotional reactions to events that appear disproportionate to the tangible magnitude of the event. Although previous work has addressed the role that perceived disrespect and unfairness have on such reactions, this study examined the role of perceived social exchange rule violations more broadly. Participants (N = 179) rated the effects of another person's behavior on important personal outcomes, the degree to which the other person had violated fundamental rules of social exchange, and their reactions to the event. Results showed that perceptions of social exchange rule violations accounted for more variance in participants' reactions than the tangible consequences of the event. The findings support the hypothesis that responses that appear disproportionate to the seriousness of the eliciting event are often fueled by perceived rule violations that may not be obvious to others.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Leary, MR; Diebels, KJ; Jongman-Sereno, KP; Fernandez, XD

Published Date

  • November 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 155 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 559 - 575

PubMed ID

  • 26331429

Pubmed Central ID

  • 26331429

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1940-1183

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-4545

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/00224545.2015.1084985


  • eng