The interpersonal dynamics of call-centre interactions: Co-constructing the rise and fall of emotion

Susan Hood, Gail Forey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (SciVal)


In this article we investigate how speakers contribute to the interactive rise and fall of emotion in problematic interactions in a data set of in-bound telephone conversations collected from call centres in the Philippines. These interactions are between the Filipino Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) and American clients who initiate the calls to seek information, clarification, or resolution to a problem. The study draws on Appraisal theory (Martin and White, 2005) to analyse the contribution of the caller and the CSR to initiating, maintaining and adjusting the interpersonal intensity of the interaction. Findings point to a limited reliance on explicit attitude on the part of both speakers, with attitude more often implied rather than expressed explicitly. Of note, too, is the interdependence of the attitudinal choices on the part of each speaker, and the role that concessive contractors such as just, already, once, yet and actually, as well as moments of silence can play in the management of the emotive intensity. While we intend the outcomes to make a contribution to professional training in the industry, we also look beyond that context to contribute in theoretical and methodological terms to the analysis of interactions in other contexts where problems need to be resolved through talk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-409
Number of pages21
JournalDiscourse and Communication
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2008


  • Appraisal analysis
  • Call centre
  • Concessive contraction
  • Interpersonal meaning
  • Spoken interaction
  • Systemic functional linguistics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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