Ever heard the saying “smile, it’s contagious”? Turns out it’s true! A smile, along with other facial expressions and vocalizations, has the power to influence the emotions and behaviors of others. In this episode, Alyssa Najera, LCSW, and Nikki Young, LMFT discuss just how infectious emotions can be through the lens of Emotion Contagion, and the importance of being cautious of who and what you surround yourself with.
In this episode we talk about:
What is Emotion Contagion?
Research dating back to the early 90’s defines emotion contagion as the tendency to automatically mimic and synchronize facial expressions, vocalizations, postures, and movements with those of another person and consequently to emerge emotionally. This means that our behaviors mimic how we feel and can also influence others to mimic our behaviors, as well. Noted, everyone has a unique and individualized scale specific to them that determines how susceptible to emotion contagion they may be. Studies also show that a person is typically more inclined to feel these effects when coming from a person whom they are closer to.
Why is understanding emotion contagion important?
The famous phrase “Do as I say, not as I do”, has been around for many years. When we consider emotion contagion in our behavior, it makes more sense to model the behavior we are trying to encourage rather than try to convince others to act a certain way when your actions are not reflecting it.
An example of emotion contagion can be modeled in a work environment by the boss setting the mood for the day. If a boss is grumpy and has a bad attitude, that can reflect onto his/her employees. On the contrary, if a boss is upbeat, positive, and encouraging, the work environment will have a much more positive effect on the employees’ mood.
It is also important to understand how media sources (such as social media, the news, etc.) have an effect of your mood. Think about how you feel after you turn off the news or when actors in a commercial or movie have the ability to elicit certain emotions from the viewers. Recognize how your environment is impacting your emotions and mood both positively and negatively.
Study Done on Emotion Contagion
A Facebook research study was done in 2014, to investigate how the content of a user’s Facebook feed impacts the content of the user’s personal posts. (Cornell Chronicle, 2014). Facebook infused the new content it gave to some of its users with more positive updates, while the remaining users were given negative updates on their feed. They then analyzed the results and discovered the people who received more positive feed were likely to post positive content, while the people who received more negative feed began to post more negative content. For more on this study visit the Cornell Chronicle.
Full transcription available at end of post.
Therapists Uncut Challenge:
Step 1: Pick two friends/family members who are willing to participate in a small, social experiment. come up with one sentence that could be taken multiple ways.
Step 2: text this same sentence to both individuals but, include a different emoji for each message – one being more positive and the other being more negative.
Step 3: immediately Explore their reactions, together. Discuss how emotion contagion might occur via text.
We’ve pulled together any resources mentioned in this episode and put together some links:
Thank you for allowing us into your lives and helping us make mental health more relatable and a part of your everyday conversation! For more information or to access all episodes visit TherapistsUncut.com.
What is the Therapists Uncut Podcast:
The Therapists Uncut Podcast is a light-hearted, informative self-help podcast for grown-ups. It is hosted by three off-the-clock therapists hoping to validate your experiences, normalize therapy and therapists, and help you prioritize your mental health.
Who are the Therapists Uncut Podcast Co-Hosts:
Nikki Young is co-host of Therapists Uncut and a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Nikki keeps it personable and professional. Yet, she always manages to keep the Therapists Uncut family and followers laughing. You may find her squirreling through topics, stories, or jokes, and all in good fun. Don’t worry because someone will bring her back around to the conversation. Nikki is a licensed marriage and family therapist in her private practice located in Modesto, CA, and she is also a Crisis Junkie at heart. In addition to being co-owner of a group private practice, she is also a crisis clinician responding to local mental health crisis and emergencies. Learn more about Nikki at catalystcounselinginc.com
Alyssa Najera is co-host of Therapists Uncut and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Alyssa is typically calm and composed on most days, but often has difficulty containing her excitement about the little things in life. She loves to laugh, spread positivity, and is often caught with a smile on her face. Alyssa is also a Child Welfare Services social worker and supervisor alumni, previous child sexual abuse forensic interviewer, trainer and consultant, and CEO of a group private practice in the small town of Oakdale, CA. Learn more about Alyssa at smalltowncounselingca.com or alyssanajera.com.
Thank you for joining Therapists Uncut, a production of AMP Smart Business. To learn more about Therapists Uncut and stay up on upcoming episodes, please subscribe and follow us on social media. As a reminder, although the Therapists Uncut co-hosts are licensed therapists, they are not your therapist. This podcast is not intended to substitute professional mental health counseling. If you need professional therapy, please contact your local provider or primary care provider. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you on the next episode of Therapists Uncut!
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Therapists Uncut is a production of AMP Smart Business.
Voice Over by Alexia Gloria