Affective neutrality refers to inhibiting emotional impulses to meet the socially expected criteria of objectivity, self-discipline, and deferment of gratification for higher purposes.
Parsons talks about five pattern variables of how roles are defined, but he says numerous additional possibilities exist. The first is the affectivity vs. affective-neutrality conundrum in the gratification-discipline paradox. The choice here is between expressing one’s orientation in terms of instant satisfaction (affectivity) or renouncing instant gratification in favor of ethical goals (affective-neutrality).
When discipline and the forgoing of some enjoyment in favor of the interests of others or higher goals are required, according to Parson, the pattern is affectively neutral. It explains the right level of emotion for a specific engagement.
Adams and Sydie also mention the connection between ego control and affective neutrality.
Affective neutrality and Weber’s notion of an impartial, rational bureaucracy can also be connected.
The studies of C. May have highlighted the importance of affective neutrality and involvement in nurse-patient relationships.
Affective Neutrality Dichotomy
Do the performers seem to be emotionally engaged? Do they receive instant satisfaction, or are they restrained—that is, under control? This question points to Sigmund Freud’s contrast between ego control and id satisfaction in human beings. According to Freud, “civilized” or modern culture often requires ego control. According to Parsons, there has been a broad trend toward universalism, performance, specificity, and affective neutrality in contemporary culture, or “modernity.”
Example 1: A bureaucrat working for a government agency
Example 2: A university professor must remain objective and emotionally impassive when grading papers.