Silence as a magnifying glass for uncertainty and affect: A qualitative case study of Karin and Dana’s journals

Olga Lehmann, Kyoko Murakami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article we focus on what diverse forms of silence (i.e., silence-phenomena) convey about affect and meaning-making as processes. Departing from a dialogical perspective that informs sociocultural and existential theories, we qualitatively analyze the cases of Karin and Dana (pseudonyms), two master’s students who attended a three weeks-long intensive and interdisciplinary course at a Norwegian university. The course is about silence-phenomena, group dynamics, and quality of life. Our main data consisted of journal entries (Karin, n=21; Dana, n=30) that the study participants wrote at different moments of the day during this course, including a morning session called “The Silent Time”. E-mail follow-ups after the course had ended were also included as a form for triangulation (Karin n=1; Dana, n=3). We use Developmentally oriented Thematic Analysis (DOTA) as a method of analysis in order to address both state and process-oriented narratives in their writings. Our research findings suggest that silence-phenomena can amplify the human experience of uncertainty as they bring contrasts that shift our attention inwards or outwards, activating diverse emotions and positionings of the self. We discuss these findings on the light of the model of hypergeneralization of affect in cultural psychology, and how this model can integrate phenomenological time and existential meaning.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCulture & Psychology
Early online date25 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 May 2024


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