Picture your group of friends. There's one that you can rely on to ease your worries, one that always seems to stress you out, one that gets you excited to go out on an adventure, and one that brings you back down to earth.
The concept that certain people elicit certain emotions in others is what psychologists refer to as "affective presence." And, as New York Magazine reports, new research suggests that the way you make others feel could be built into your personality just as much as your other tendencies, like optimism or pessimism.
"For example, some people make others feel happy, and this is stable enough to be identified as part of what emotionally distinguishes one individual from another," said Raul Berrios, lead author of the new study published in the European Journal of Personality.
NY Mag explains the researchers' process:
For his study, Berrios recruited 40 students for a speed-dating scenario, producing a total of 134 four-minute dates. Immediately after each date, the students reported how their partner had made them feel, choosing from one of eight emotions: happy, sad, angry, enthusiastic, bored, stressed, calm, or relaxed.
After analyzing their answers, Berrios and his team found that people consistently rated certain people in the same way.
This showed them that certain emotions are consistently elicited, Berrios said, and that some people tended to make other people feel a certain way.
The two most common ways people made others feel were excited and bored, which was unsurprising to Berrios, because when people are looking for a potential mate, they pay much more attention to how aroused they feel.
He also found that people are more likely to bring out positive rather than negative emotions in those they interact with. It's nice to know that the majority of us don't just assume the worst in our fellow humans.
Each of the participants also filled out personality questionnaires, plus a survey designed to measure their emotional intelligence, and the results of these suggested that people who said they were better at regulating their own emotions tended to bring out positive feelings in those they interacted with. Extroverted and agreeable people also tended to make their dates feel good.
Clearly, more research on affective presence needs to be done in settings others than a dating situation (which comes with a unique set of pressures), but the findings are compelling nonetheless. It adds to the knowledge about what makes you you. You may think your true character resides within your mind, but this study suggests that you're also what you create in others.
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