PSYCHOLOGICAL APPROACH TO THE STUDY AND MEASUREMENT OF EMOTIONS
A common challenge facing psychologists engaged in emotion research relates to the blurred definition between emotion and affect. Although some researchers have suggested that emotion refers to the unconscious experience of emotion and affect refers to the conscious experience of emotion (Damasio, 1999), others use the terms interchangeably (Davidson, 2003, Panksepp, 2000). For the purposes of clarity and consistency in this chapter, we use emotion as an umbrella term for all the behavioral expressive, cognitive, and physiological changes that occur in individuals (Panksepp, 2000). This includes moods, discrete emotions, and general affectivity. Our goal is not to make a statement regarding construct definitions in the realm of emotion and affect, but rather to provide an overview of physiological methods that can be used to study a variety of emotional and/or affective phenomena in organizations.
In organizational research, self-report and observer methods are by far the most commonly used methods to capture emotional phenomena at work. Although they offer researchers important insight into people’s perceptions of emotion and are easy to administer, important limitations should be recognized. We detail these methods and their associated limitations below.