Deutsch: Emotionale Ansteckung / Español: Contagio Emocional / Português: Contágio Emocional / Français: Contagion Émotionnelle / Italian: Contagio Emozionale

Emotional contagion in the psychology context refers to the phenomenon where one person's emotions and related behaviours directly trigger similar emotions and behaviours in others. This process occurs through various mechanisms, including facial expressions, vocal tones, and body language, and can happen both consciously and unconsciously.


Emotional contagion is the process by which emotions spread from one individual to another, often without explicit awareness. This phenomenon is rooted in our ability to empathize and connect with others on an emotional level. When we observe someone expressing an emotion, we often unconsciously mimic their facial expressions, vocal tones, and body language, leading to a similar emotional experience within ourselves.

This mechanism is thought to involve mirror neurons, which are brain cells that respond similarly when we perform an action or when we observe someone else performing the same action. Through these neural processes, observing another person's emotional state can activate similar emotional states within us.

Emotional contagion can play a significant role in social interactions and group dynamics. It helps to facilitate social cohesion and empathy, enabling individuals to connect and respond appropriately to each other's emotional states. However, it can also contribute to the spread of negative emotions, such as stress or anxiety, within groups.

Special: The Role of Social Media

In the digital age, emotional contagion extends beyond face-to-face interactions to social media platforms. Emotions expressed through posts, comments, and online interactions can spread rapidly among users, influencing the overall mood of online communities. Studies have shown that exposure to positive or negative content on social media can affect users' emotions and behaviours, demonstrating the far-reaching impact of emotional contagion in the digital realm.

Application Areas

Emotional contagion is relevant in various fields within psychology and beyond, including:

  1. Clinical Psychology: Understanding how emotions spread within therapeutic settings can help in designing effective interventions.
  2. Organizational Psychology: Managing emotional contagion in the workplace to enhance employee well-being and productivity.
  3. Education: Teachers can leverage positive emotional contagion to create a conducive learning environment.
  4. Marketing and Consumer Behaviour: Brands can use emotional contagion to create positive associations and influence consumer attitudes.
  5. Healthcare: Healthcare providers can manage emotional contagion to improve patient care and team dynamics.

Well-Known Examples

  1. Group Therapy: Emotional sharing in group therapy sessions can lead to shared emotional experiences, enhancing empathy and support among members.
  2. Leadership: A leader's emotional state can influence the overall morale and productivity of their team.
  3. Media Influence: News reports and social media content can spread emotions like fear or optimism among the audience.
  4. Sports Events: The collective emotion of a crowd at a sports event can amplify the excitement and engagement of individuals.
  5. Customer Service: A positive interaction with a service provider can spread positive emotions to the customer, improving their overall experience.

Treatment and Risks

Understanding emotional contagion is crucial in various therapeutic and organizational settings, but it also comes with potential risks and challenges:

  1. Negative Spread: Negative emotions like anxiety, anger, or sadness can spread quickly within groups, potentially leading to a toxic environment.
  2. Burnout: Caregivers and mental health professionals are at risk of emotional contagion, leading to compassion fatigue and burnout.
  3. Misinformation: In social media, emotional contagion can contribute to the rapid spread of misinformation, driven by emotionally charged content.

Symptoms, Therapy, and Healing


  • Increased stress or anxiety within a group
  • Mood changes corresponding to the emotional states of others
  • Heightened empathy or emotional mirroring


  • Cognitive-behavioural Therapy (CBT): Helps individuals recognize and manage the impact of emotional contagion.
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR): Teaches individuals to manage their emotional responses and reduce the impact of negative emotional contagion.
  • Group Therapy: Can harness positive emotional contagion to build support and empathy among participants.


  • Emotional Regulation: Developing skills to manage one's own emotions effectively.
  • Support Systems: Building strong support networks to buffer against negative emotional contagion.
  • Self-Care: Engaging in activities that promote mental and emotional well-being to mitigate the effects of emotional contagion.

Similar Terms

  • Empathy: The ability to understand and share the feelings of another person.
  • Social Influence: The impact of others' behaviours and attitudes on an individual's own behaviours and attitudes.
  • Mood Contagion: A specific type of emotional contagion where overall mood spreads within a group.
  • Affective Synchrony: The synchronization of emotional states between individuals during interactions.


In the psychology context, emotional contagion refers to the spread of emotions and behaviours from one person to another. This process plays a significant role in social interactions, group dynamics, and digital communication. Understanding emotional contagion helps in managing its effects in therapeutic, organizational, and social settings, promoting positive emotional experiences and mitigating the spread of negative emotions.