Affect Control Theory

Affect control theory links social identities, actions, and emotions in a control system. In a control system, the processes operate to maintain a reference level (like a thermostat setting). In affect control theory, the reference levels are the affective meanings that are linked to labels for identities and actions. People learn these meanings (how good, how powerful, and how active things are) from their cultures. When they enter social interactions, they define situations with verbal labels, such as “I'm a teacher, and the person entering my office is an undergraduate student.” The act of thinking about the situation in that way automatically evokes meanings about what teachers and undergraduate students are like on the three dimensions of goodness, powerfulness, and activity levels. The basic principle ...

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