Emotion Recognition as a Social Skill

In Ellen Fridland & Carlotta Pavese (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Skill and Expertise. New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 347-361 (2020)
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This chapter argues that emotion recognition is a skill. A skill perspective on emotion recognition draws attention to underappreciated features of this cornerstone of social cognition. Skills have a number of characteristic features. For example, they are improvable, practical, and flexible. Emotion recognition has these features as well. Leading theories of emotion recognition often draw inadequate attention to these features. The chapter advances a theory of emotion recognition that is better suited to this purpose. It proposes that emotion recognition involves scripts. Emotion scripts describe how people are likely to behave in different emotional contexts. Scripts can be improved with the addition of richer social knowledge, they are practical in that they describe and guide social interaction, and they are flexible because they must accommodate the fact that emotions have different behavioral impact depending on the agents involved and the circumstances at play. Learning to recognize emotions through scripts qualifies as a skill.

Author Profiles

Jesse J. Prinz
CUNY Graduate Center
Gen Eickers
Universit├Ąt Bayreuth


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