Understanding Emotional Contagion

The Science Behind How We 'Catch' Emotions

Posted by varunrayen on Sunday, May 21, 2023

Understanding Emotional Contagion

You’ve probably felt the effects in your family life. One person has a bad day at work and suddenly, all family members are grumpy and upset about even the smallest things. There‚Äôs actually a physiological origin to emotional contagion

Emotional contagion is a phenomenon in which emotions and related behaviors are transmitted from one person to another. It is a type of social contagion that can happen either by accident or by choice. It can happen to one person or to a group of people.

Emotional contagion can be triggered by facial expressions, indirect human interactions, or by watching other peoples behavior in direct interactions.

Simple examples are:

  • A person who is laughing uncontrollably can make others around them laugh as well

  • An angry person can also cause others to feel angry or frustrated.

It is related to neurons through the concept of mirror neurons. Mirror neurons are a type of neuron that fires both when an individual performs an action and when they observe the same action performed by another individual. These neurons are found in areas of the brain such as the premotor cortex, parietal area, hippocampus, and limbic system.

It constantly keeps on listening to the emotional state of others. Once it identifies the state, it tries to mimic the state, and you feel it too. This is also the main reason why stress can also be contagious. It will work on the positive side too.

Positive feelings are associated with advertising and technology companies using this.

Counteracting the negative effects:

You can use the following strategies to lessen the effects of emotional contagion:

  1. Increase self-awareness: Recognize your own emotions and understand how they affect your thoughts and behaviors. This will help you manage your emotions better and prevent them from spreading to others.

  2. Practice mindfulness: Engage in mindfulness practices, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, to help you stay present and focused on the current moment. This can help you manage your emotions more effectively and reduce the likelihood of emotional contagion.

  3. Develop emotional resilience: Build your emotional resilience by fostering optimism, facing your fears, and setting boundaries. This will help you adapt to stressful situations and cope with life’s ups and downs more effectively.

  4. Improve emotional intelligence: Work on enhancing your emotional intelligence skills, such as empathy, self-regulation, and social skills. This will help you better understand and manage your own emotions, as well as the emotions of others

  5. Seek social support: Surround yourself with positive and supportive people who can help you navigate through difficult emotions and situations. This can help reduce the impact of negative emotional contagion.

  6. Communicate effectively: Practice active listening and engage in open, honest conversations with others. This can help you better understand their emotions and prevent the spread of negative emotions.

  7. Focus on the positive: Surround yourself with things that make you happy and try to maintain a positive outlook on life. This can help counteract the negative effects of emotional contagion.

  8. Set boundaries: Learn to say no and protect yourself from emotional contagion by setting boundaries with others. This can help you maintain your emotional well-being and prevent the spread of negative emotions.

  9. Take breaks: Give yourself time to recharge and recover from emotionally draining situations. This can help you maintain your emotional well-being and reduce the impact of emotional contagion.

  10. Seek professional help: If you find it difficult to manage your emotions or the emotions of others, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor. They can provide guidance and support to help you develop strategies for managing emotional contagion.