Based on the affective intelligence theory (AIT), the current research examines how social viewing on presidential debates influences emotions (anger, fear and enthusiasm) and moreover, how these linkages affect cognitive elaboration and tolerance for opposing views. A national survey conducted in the 2017 presidential election shows that social viewing on presidential debates elicited fear and enthusiasm but only enthusiasm was related to cognitive elaboration. Moreover, cognitive elaboration showed a positive relationship with tolerance for opposing views. Enthusiasm mediated the relationship between social viewing on presidential debates and cognitive elaboration as well as tolerance for opposing views. This research contributes to expanding the AIT in the social viewing context, particularly focusing on the presidential debates. (C) 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.