Tong, Eddie M. W.
I am interested in positive emotion, appraisal theory, and religion processes.
In this decade, I have invested much of my research resources into the study of positive emotion. As a result of both serious contemplation and causal wonderings, and with the help of an able and dedicated team of students and expert collaborators, I have contributed papers specifically on hope (Tong, Fredrickson, Chang, & Lim, 2010), romantic love (Chan, Tong, Tan, & Joh, 2013), pride (Ho, Tong, & Jia, 2016), humility (Tong et al., 2016), and awe (Koh, Tong, & Yuen, accepted). My next paper will be about self-compassion.
Beyond these scattered findings, the bulk of my work on positive emotion centers on gratitude. Since obtaining tenure (2011), I have been developing and testing a new idea called the social alignment perspective of gratitude. This work examines how the grateful person responds to social forces, and predicts that gratitude makes a person more likely to align with the thoughts, emotions, behaviors, attitudes, and needs of other people. I have found preliminary evidence to support this view (Jia, Tong & Lee, 2014, Jia, Lee, & Tong, 2015; Ng, Tong, Sim, Teo, Loy, & Giesbrecht, 2017). Currently, I am pursuing and pushing this idea further, in a bid to uncover the conditions that render a grateful person more vulnerable to social influence.
My Masters thesis (under Prof. George Bishop) and Ph.D. dissertation (Prof. Phoebe Ellsworth) examined the appraisal theory of emotion. Appraisal theory is a major theoretical framework that explains the elicitation, differentiation, and consequences of emotions by means of specific patterns of appraisals. My work has examined non-conscious appraisal-emotion processes (Yang & Tong, 2010; Tong, Tan & Tan, 2013; Tong & Teo, accepted), non-linear appraisal-emotion relationships (Tong, Ellsworth, & Bishop, 2009; Tong & Tay, 2011), personality influences (Tong, 2010, JoP), sufficiency and necessity relations (Tong, 2010, C&E), differentiation of positive emotions (Tong, 2015; Tong & Jia, 2017), meta-appraisal confidence (Tong, Teo, & Chia, 2014), temporal trajectories of appraisals (Tong et al., 2009), and the issue of methodological precision in measuring appraisals (Tong et al., 2005), among others. My collaborators and I have also examined the appraisal profile of self-anger (Ellsworth & Tong, 2006) and tested a novel construct called appraisal differentiation (Tong & Keng, 2017). Hence, my research tests the boundaries of appraisal theory and goes beyond examining appraisal structures to investigating complex appraisal-emotion processes.
I am new to the science of religion. I often wonder how people might respond under the influence of religion. History shows us that both good and bad things can come out of it. I have made some modest headways by showing how religious factors affect or are related to risk assessment (Chan, Tong, & Tan, 2014), prosociality (Lin, Tong, Lee, Low, & Gomes, 2016), and emotion (Tong, 2017; Tong & Teo, accepted). I am now embarking on an ambitious project with Dr. Paul Reddish that contrasts different theories on religion and bridges the science of religion with the science of emotion.