The Impact of Emotion Language on International Negotiation (ELIN)

How do emotions and cultural differences affect communication in multi-linguistic negotiations?

Project Summary

Communication between people of different linguistic, social and cultural background is of great importance today in virtually all spheres of human interaction. Meanwhile, communication in crucial domains such as diplomacy, international cooperation, military and political conflicts are typically fraught with hazards of misconception and misinterpretation and ways have to be found for communication to be effective and constructive. In this context, it becomes imperative to carefully elaborate language- and culture-sensitive strategies to minimize the risks, especially with regard to an appropriate assessment and response.

The aim of the project ELIN was therefore to address the question how emotions affect such interactions, especially in conflict scenarios with an emphasis on mediation and solutions. The project gathered an interdisciplinary team from affective sciences, psycholinguistics, lexical semantics, interpretation studies, and critical discourse analysis, among others. Central emotion concepts have been studied such as anger, guilt, shame and pride, looking also at eight widespread languages in the world (English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, German and Hebrew). In addition, the project addressed the role of cultural differences displayed with emotions and thus gave a precious practical contribution in the field of diplomacy.

Academic Output

Working Paper

The Impact of Emotion Language on International Negotiation (ELIN)

Communication between people of different linguistic, social and cultural backgrounds is burgeoning nowadays in virtually all spheres of human interaction. Meanwhile, communication within domains such as diplomacy, international cooperation and military or political conflict – typically fraught with the hazards of misconception and misinterpretation – needs to be maximally effective and constructive. In this context, it becomes imperative to carefully elaborate language- and culture-sensitive strategies to minimize these risks, especially with regard to the appropriate assessment and response to affect, which permeates all levels of human interaction.

In response to this exigency, the ELIN research project, financed by the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS) and co-financed by the NCCR in Affective Sciences and the Centre Interfacultaire en Sciences Affectives (CISA), aims to foster a strategic interdisciplinary collaboration between scholars from various local and foreign institutions and professionals from international organizations in an attempt to provide the international community with cross- cultural insight into the emotions most relevant in conflict scenarios. Four central emotion concepts were chosen for their relevance in conflict and negotiation: ANGER, GUILT, SHAME and PRIDE. The project, both theoretical and applied, aims to produce a contrastive account of their meaning construction and verbal communication in eight relevant and widespread languages of the world: the 6 official languages of the UN (English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and Russian) together with German and Hebrew. In this way, the project seeks to enhance public awareness on cultural differences in the realm of emotional display and to contribute to the professional training and practices of professional dealing with international communication.

Executive Summary

The ELIN Project has looked at the conceptual and linguistic representation of conflict emotions in several important languages of the world revealing the consequences of culture- and language specific differences for translation and international communication. Results pertain to three research lines or subprojects: the lexical representation of conflict emotions, their metaphorical conceptualization and their discoursive expression. In this executive report we provide a summary of the main studies carried out in each subproject and illustrate with examples some of their main results (but see the working paper for more details). We also provide a general evaluation of the project, an updated list of ELIN collaborators, a commented account of our publications and knowledge transfer activities, and a description of future lines of research stemming from the ELIN results.

Research Team

Klaus Scherer
Coordinator
University of Geneva

Suleiman Al-Abbas
Principal Member
Atlas Research Center, Amman, Jordan

Marie-Josée De Saint Robert
Principal Member
UNOG

Let Dillen
Principal Member
Universiteit Gent

Volodymyr Ermolenko
Principal Member
National University of Kyiv, Ukraine

Jean-Jacques Fontaine
Principal Member
Universiteit Gent

Detlef Kotte
Principal Member
UNCTAD

Peter W. Krawutschke
Principal Member
International Federation of Translators

Hannalore Lee-Jahnke
Principal Member
University of Geneva

Caroline Lehr
Principal Member
University of Geneva

Wang Lidi
Principal Member
Beijing Foreign Studies University

 

Claudia Mejia
Principal Member
Universidad de Antioquia

Claire Moore Dickerson
Principal Member
Tulane University

Anna Ogarkova
Principal Member
University of Geneva

Orly Sarid
Principal Member
Universitat Ben Gurion Ba-Negev

Peter Axel Schmitt
Principal Member
Universität Leipzig

 

Status

completed

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