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Abstract

In their paper, "Towards a Theory of Emotional Communication," Anne Bartsch and Susanne Hübner outline a model of emotional communication where emotional communication is conceptualized as a process of mutual influence between the emotions of communication partners. To elaborate this general notion further, four working definitions of emotional communication are introduced, each of which is based on a different theory of emotions. In the second part of the paper, an integrative framework is proposed that reconciles the four working definitions and their underlying theories of emotion. According to this framework, emotional communication comprises three interrelated levels of complexity: 1) innate stimulus-response-patterns, 2) associative schemata, and 3) symbolic meaning. Finally, Bartsch and Hübner discuss how emotional communication can be described in terms of general communication theory, and conclude that the three complexity levels are heterogeneous with regard to definitional issues in general communication theory. Hence, emotional communication cannot be subsumed under a single theory of communication. Taken separately, however, each complexity level of emotional communication can be related meaningfully to approaches in general communication theory.

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