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Emotions can often be transferred from one person to another. It has been assumed that the strength and impact of contagious emotions can depend largely on the susceptibility of the individual. This concept has led to the idea of emotional contagion, or “the tendency to automatically mimic and synchronize facial expressions, vocalizations, postures and movements with those of another person, and consequently, to converge emotionally”, as defined by Hatfield, Cacioppo & Rapson (1992). The present study will examine the influence of certain emotions and the increased probability for contagion to occur. Specifically, this study will explore the emotional strengths of happiness and sadness viewed in others as catalysts for changes in individual mood states. Participants (n=60) solicited from Dominican University and different social networks will be sent an email containing the link to a survey via, containing the Emotional Contagion Scale (ECS; Doherty, 1997), one of six randomly selected video clips from, and two subscales from the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule-Expanded Form (PANAS-X; Watson & Clark, 1994). Participants will also be asked common demographic questions. The ECS measures individual susceptibility to emotional contagion. Participants will then watch one of six video clips (either a male or female) that depict an elderly person expressing either a happy, sad, or neutral emotion. Finally, participants will be asked a total of 12 questions about their mood state using two subscales from the PANAS-X (joviality and sadness). This study furthers current research to extend findings that establish a relationship between individual differences in emotional susceptibility and the potential for mood change. It is hypothesized that 1) emotionally susceptible people should score high on a mood scale after watching an emotionally charged video clip, 2) sadness will have a more contagious effect, and 3) females will score higher than males in emotional contagion. Data collection for this study will take place February/March of 2015.



Faculty Advisor

William Phillips, Ph.D.

Publication Date

Spring 2015


San Rafael, CA



The Relationship Between Emotional Contagion and Mood State

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Psychology Commons