Affect control theory: An assessment


Book Section

© 1987 Gordon and Breach Science Publishers Inc. This paper reviews affect control theory's major strengths, the contributions of recent work to its growth, and the most promising avenues for future work. Affect control theory's strengths include (1) the precision of its mathematical statement and empirical base (especially when compared with earlier interpretive sociologies), (2) its ability to link the internal processing that generates social action to the socio-cultural system upon which that action is based, and (3) the generality that allows a parsimonious explanation of a wide range of processes and previous research findings. Recent advances provide (1) new, more accurate impression-change formulas, (2) the expansion of the theory to encompass settings, emotions, and traits, (3) new dictionaries of evaluation, potency and acitivity meanings and (4) tests o f the theory using likelihood judgments, verbal scenarios and actual behavior of naive experimental subjects. Further work must include links to cognitive structures that will further delineate definition of situation and behavior selection processes. In addition, integration of affect control theory with new sociological work on the development of shared social knowledge and on institutionalized production systems expand the theory in useful ways. Finally, new work must find innovative and convincing ways to test simulation outcomes using both verbal accounts and behavior.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Smith-Lovin, L

Published Date

  • May 6, 2016

Book Title

  • Analyzing Social Interaction: Advances in Affect Control Theory

Start / End Page

  • 171 - 192

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9781315025773

Citation Source

  • Scopus