Both attitudes and moods turn out to be contagious, and even more so when we remain exposed to them for a long time. Much of the responsibility depends on mirror neurons or cubelli, fundamental for empathy and to put ourselves in the place of others. This ability is positive, but it also has a negative impact, because we can easily spread the negativity of those around us.
Negativity generates more negativity
Although we are not always willing to admit it, a study conducted by the University of Indiana has revealed that the opinions of others affect us and influence our behavior. These psychologists have found that negative opinions have a greater impact and generate a change in attitude compared to positive opinions.
In the experiment, the participants examined several products. Then they shared their opinions with others, both positive and negative. The researchers found that negative opinions influenced the attitudes of the participants towards the products, making them feel even worse. And the worst is that those who previously had a positive attitude were the most susceptible to the influence of the negative opinions of others.
In addition, when people had the opportunity to interact face-to-face with those who had these negative opinions, they were more likely to strengthen their negative attitude and an even greater polarization was appreciated. This experiment sends a clear message: negativity generates more negativity .
Sadness spreads like a virus
Psychologists at Harvard University have analyzed the link between emotional states and relational models. They did not take into account the spontaneous or shared emotions that we often experience when we share the same experiences with other people, but instead focused on the impact of the emotional changes that affect the affective states of the people closest to us.
They have discovered that there is a “propagation pattern”, as for viruses, and that sources of infection are greater in the case of sadness than happiness. In other words, each happy friend increases our chances of being happy by 11%, but we only need a sad friend to double our chances of being unhappy.
These psychologists conclude that negative emotions are like the flu: the more friends you have who have the flu, the greater the chances of becoming infected, the same applies to sadness and despair.
Also hostility and bad mood are contagious
We quickly see the bad mood and hostility, and as soon as we do, something changes in our brain, it changes our way of perceiving the world. We interpret the interactions more rudely, and this will make us assume the same attitude that will end up spreading.
This was demonstrated by psychologists at the University of Florida who asked a group of people to attend a meeting with a randomly assigned partner. They discovered that those who had been exposed to rude attitudes were more likely to be rude to their next partner. And the interesting thing is that this attitude could last a whole week.
In a second moment, they asked the participants to identify the words in a series of confusing letters. They saw in this way that those who had been exposed to a rude attitude were more likely to find words related to negative emotions. This shows that the interactions we maintain act as a filter, so if we are exposed to negative interactions, we tend to analyze everything from a more negative point of view and that is exactly what we will see.
Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you
Even if we do not want it, the moods of the people around us can end up having a big impact on our emotions and attitudes. That is why it is important to be very careful when choosing who we allow to enter our inner circle .
Being constantly exposed to bad mood and negativity will end up presenting an invoice to pay, so it is crucial to be surrounded by people who can get the best out of us. Of course, we also have to make sure that we become people with whom others can perceive a positive energy.
The good news is that when we are aware of the fact that there is an emotional contagion , we can act as players’ balancers by encouraging others to focus on the more positive side of things. It is true that positive emotions are much less contagious, but it is still the best gift we can give someone when they are having a bad time.