How Emotions Work / Edition 1

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Road rage on L.A. freeways, the laughter of families at a fun house, a child's temper tantrum, a criminal's interrogation-room breakdown -- in How Emotions Work, Jack Katz examines these situations and more, seeking clues to help us understand our emotions, their sources, and the often-surprising ways they lead us to behave.

"...presents new methods for exploring the inner workings of human emotions...includes discussions of road rage, shame, humor, and sadness."

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Why do we cry at the best and worst moments of our lives? How can rational adults suddenly find themselves having an emotional outburst? How do we unconsciously create our emotional responses, and then consciously bring these emotions under control? How do we manage, manipulate, and control emotions in social situations? These are some of the questions that Katz (sociology, UCLA; Seductions of Crime) seeks to answer in this social and psychological examination of emotions provoked by everyday situations. Using a variety of methods, including participant observation, ethnological studies, and the analysis of videotaped situations, Katz unravels complex behavioral, interactive, situational, and somatic elements involved in the expression of anger, shame, laughter, and crying. His intriguing subjects include drivers on L.A. freeways, families at a fun house, a whining toddler in preschool, and a prisoner under police interrogation. While enhancing our understanding of emotional behavior, this academic study is filled with technical jargon that will discourage all but the most persistent general reader. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.--Lucille M. Boone, San Jose P.L., CA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Katz (sociology, U. of California-Los Angeles) searches for an empirically grounded explanation for some of the common emotional patterns of everyday life, including laughter, crying, shame, and anger. His interviews and case studies include formerly angry LA drivers, whining children, and a police suspect breaking down under interrogation. Illustrated with b&w drawings and videotape stills. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Kirkus Reviews
A sociologist analyzes emotions by taking a close look at how anger, laughter, shame, and crying emerge and decline in everyday situations. Katz (sociology, UCLA) has selected what would seem to be fruitful situations for his exploration of emotions. His study of anger is based on some 150 detailed reports of adult drivers who were asked to recount their enraging experiences while driving in Los Angeles. To examine laughter, he uses an equally dramatic technique, videotaping 187 episodes of individuals and families in a fun house equipped with distorting mirrors. His work on shame draws largely on statements and videotapes of eight-year-old boys striking out in Little League baseball games and persons involved in white collar crime investigations, as well as on the extensive literature on shame. Crying is studied through two disparate situations, the persistent whining of a preschool child and the breakdown of a criminal being questioned by the police. However, the prose in which the research and analysis is couched is unfortunately clotted with the professional jargon of social psychology. Learning that emotions are "dialectical tensions between doing and being done by interactions with others," that "the socioaesthetic properties of laughter appear to be a universal feature of socialized competence throughout Western civilization," or that someone's crying is a response to a crisis in "the corporeal authentication of his narration" is unlikely to enthrall the general reader curious about the phenomenon of road rage or wondering why tears may signal both great joy and great sadness—even when illustrative liine drawings and stills from the videotapes supplement the text, andexcerpts of annotated tape transcriptions offer a glimpse of a sociological researcher's extraordinarily detailed observations of subjects. While the title is appealing in its simplicity and directness, inside the cover this clarity quickly gives way to a dismaying density that will burden and frustrate readers outside the circle of social-psychological research.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226425993
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/1999
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 407
  • Sales rank: 1,083,849
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Jack Katz is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Pissed Off in L.A. 18
2 Families and Funny Mirrors 87
3 Shameful Moments 142
4 What Is Crying? 175
fog and fugue: An Introduction to Two Cryings 223
5 An Episode of Whining 229
6 Crying in the Whirlpool: A Murderer Breaks Down under Police Interrogation 274
7 Mundane Metamorphoses 309
Notes 345
References 381
Index 393
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