Sensegiving and sensebreaking via emotion cycles and emotional buffering: How collective communication creates order in the courtroom

Jennifer A. Scarduzio, Sarah Tracy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Municipal courtroom employees face a variety of positive and negative emotional interactions, especially when defendants are encountering the criminal justice system for the first time. Based on qualitative data from participant observation and informal and formal interviews, this study analyzes how emotion cycles between judges and bailiffs help provide sensegiving and sensebreaking cues to defendants and observers in the courtroom. The heart of the analysis explores the routines and previous enacted environments of the courtroom, and the emotional buffering role of bailiffs—who we call intermediary actors—and names three types of emotion cycles: (a) the positive complementary emotion cycle, (b) the negative compensatory emotion cycle, and (c) the negative complementary emotion cycle. Theoretical implications include extensions of emotion cycle research through the use of participant observation data, the role of emotional buffering among three or more actors, and the impact of sensegiving and sensebreaking cues on organizational visitors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-357
Number of pages27
JournalManagement Communication Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015



  • Emotion cycles
  • Emotional buffers
  • Sensebreaking
  • Sensegiving

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Communication

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