Emotional contagion is a term psychologists use when emotions “spread” from person to person, influencing the moods and behaviors of others. We’ve all felt this shift. Ever had a day when you’re feeling good at work until your grumbling boss comes in, complaining and criticizing? Soon, you’re doing it too. On the flip-side, perhaps you’ve felt your sad, anxious mood lift when your spouse comes home happy and upbeat.
“The more you identify with a person, the more likely you are to catch the emotion,” says John Cacioppo, Ph.D., director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago and an expert on emotional contagion. “Much of this occurs and we are completely oblivious to it.”