Social-Emotional Expertise (SEE): Interoception, Person Perception, and Granularity
Bruni, Pietra Taylor
“Social-emotional expertise” (SEE) is a construct that describes individual differences in the ease and adaptability of navigating social situations. Variability in SEE has implications for both the ability to manage interactions and satisfaction with those interactions. The SEE construct concerns the translation of affect-related perceptions and behaviors into socially engaging behavior, such that individuals who are higher in SEE are more likely to have better quality interactions than those who are lower in SEE. Social-emotional expertise is in part conceptualized as consisting of relative strengths and deficits in a socioemotional “toolkit,” in which multiple, moderately correlated affect-related skills drive high-SEE individuals to excel at the social-emotional components of interactions (e.g., person perception, timing, and coordination). Although many of these components have been studied, corresponding empirical work with relation to SEE is in its infancy. This experiment tested the associations between variability in self-reported SEE and performance on skills that we hypothesize are in part driven by individual differences in SEE. We were specifically interested in testing the associations among SEE, interoceptive measures (i.e., accuracy and awareness) and affect-related skills (i.e., person perception and emotional granularity). Two tasks measured interoception: a Heartbeat Tracking Task and a Respiratory Discrimination Task. Interpersonal perception was assessed via three established tasks: distinguishing Duchenne from non-Duchenne smiles, a trustworthy-untrustworthy categorization task, and the Interpersonal Perception Task. The results of this experiment indicated that no significant differences were observed between low- average-, or high-SEE groups on laboratory tasks measuring interoception or person perception. Results did support significant gender differences in emotional granularity, as women both used more emotion words and had a higher overall word count than men when writing about their emotional experience and mood throughout the day.