There is always that one person who walks into a room and attracts everyone’s attention then there’s others who seem to bring butter cutting tension and awkwardness no matter what they do or say. Well according to a new study conducted by a small body of mental health experts supports the idea that a person tends to make others feel consistent and measurable part of his personality. Experts call it “Affective presence.”
Before the recent confirmation, the concept was first brought up ten years ago in a study performed by Noah Eisenkraft and Hillary Anger Elfenbein. Their efforts put together a business school of students into groups, and enrolled them in all the same classes for a semester, and are required to do every group project together. After the member of each group will rate how much every other member made them feel, they choose from eight different emotions stressed, bored, angry, sad, calm, relaxed, happy, and enthusiastic. Experts claim that in a significant portion of group members feelings could be accounted for by the affective presence of their peers.
According to Elfenbein, a business professor at Washington University in St. Louis, humans seem to have “our way of being has an emotional signature.”
For years it has been known that emotions are contagious “energy,” meaning if one person is stressed his or her friends will start to adopt those same feelings. However, if the affective presence is an effect one has regardless of ones’ perceptions, those with positive affective presence make other people feel good, even if they are anxious or sad, and the opposite is true for those with negative affective presence.
In the Elfenbein’s study, more of their classmates considered them to be friends, and they also got romantic gestures from others in a separate speed-dating study. This shows that clearly, people who consistently make others feel happy or calm are more central to their social and business networks.
Experts including Hector Madrid, an organizational-behavior professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, have also studied how the affective presence of leaders in the workplace can influence their group’s outcome. They found that leaders who make others feel good by their proximity to have teams that are better at communicating which ultimately leads to more ideas.
However precisely what people are doing that distinguishes them from easing or stressing peopling out hasn’t been directly studied, although experts believe it may have to do with body language, or tone of voice or even being a good listener. Hector argues their needs to be more research that might discover some people have a robust affective presence (whether positive or negative), while others’ affective presence is weaker. Both doctors claim that a big part of this presentation may be how people regulate emotions- those of others and more importantly their own.
For example, many experiences normal “episodes” of emotional mood swings of annoyance or excitement or sadness. The main question is, “Can you regulate yourself, so those blips don’t infect other people?” Elfenbein ask. “Can you smooth over the noise in your life, so other people aren’t affected by it?”
She also notes that positive affective presence isn’t necessarily good, either for the individual or for their relationships with others. For example, psychopaths are notoriously charming, and may well use their positive affective presence for manipulative ends. Elfenbein claims that affective presence is a close cousin to emotional intelligence. Moreover, she Believes, “You can use your intelligence to cure cancer, but you can also use it to be a criminal mastermind.” More research on affective presence will be conducted in the next decade to explore the connections of emotional traits.