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Can We ‘Catch’ the Moods and Emotions of our Friends like Common Cold? Researchers say ‘Yes’! Read to know more!

If findings from a new study are believed, researchers suggest emotions are contagious!

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Researchers at the University of Warwick believe that it is possible for individuals to catch both positive and negative moods of the people they interact with. Pixabay

United Kingdom, October 19, 2017 : We all know yawing is contagious – if we look at a person yawn, we tend to yawn too. But can interactions or merely looking at another individual make us experience the same emotions that they are going through?

If findings from a new study are believed, researchers suggest emotions are contagious!

Researchers at the University of Warwick believe that it is possible for individuals to catch both positive and negative moods of the people they interact with.

The study has been published in the journal Royal Society Open Science and sheds light on the importance of choosing the right company.

As part of the study, researchers analyzed a volunteering group of US teenagers and recorded their behavioral patterns and changes, with respect to their interaction with their peers.

The research observed that an increasing number of individuals experienced low and upsetting mood and were more likely to have mood swings with friends who were upset. On the other hand, individuals with a cheerful and happy peer group were recorded to remain happier, in general.

ALSO READ Do You Only Experience Happiness, Sadness, Anger, Surprise, Fear and Disgust? Not Anymore! Researchers Discover 27 Different States of Human Emotions

Researchers largely understand this phenomenon as ‘emotional contagion’ and attribute it as a three-step process by which an individual ‘catches’ another person’s feelings.

The process can be better understood as follows,

  • Stage I: Non-conscious mimicry: In this stage, individuals copy another person’s gesticulations, behavior, or expressions.
  • Stage II: In this stage, people share an internal feedback. Because you mimicked your friend’s frown, you begin to feel low too.
  • Stage III: In the final stage, individuals are believed to share their experiences with their friends until their reactions, and emotions are synchronized.

The science of emotional contagion goes back to 400 B.C., when Hippocrates, the founder of medicine, observed that some women seemed to transfer “hysteria” to one another

The tendency to ‘catch’ another person’s emotions is not new- the first record dates back to 400 BC when Hippocrates, the founder of medicine, realized that some women were possibly transferring ‘hysteria’ to each-other. However,  it was only in the recent past that researchers have begun to analyze the dynamics behind the contagious nature of feelings and emotions in human relationships.

Thus, it is possible that you may unknowingly begin imitating an upset friend’s behavior when you were having a good day yourself, and in turn begin to morph into an unhappy state yourself.

Researchers assert there are two aims of social interactions and communication.

According to Professor Frances Griffiths, the co-author of the study, there are multiple components of mood that can spread socially.

According to him, a primary aim of social interventions could be for the development and maintenance of friendly relationships to reduce the likelihood of depression. “A secondary aim could be to reduce spreading of negative mood,” he said.

The contagious nature of emotions can become increasingly amplified when people are in frequent contact with one another.

Thus, the study places emphasis on the need to wisely choose the company you keep, so that you can potentially catch other people’s good moods, rather than their upset, low or bad moods.

While it does not suggest that you should abandon a friend who s upset, what the study certainly says is that you must seclude yourself if you have a serial moaner in your peer circle.

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Want To Know If Your Dog Is Happy Or Not? Find It Out Here

Your experience will help you find out about how your dog feels

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If you know when your dog is sad or happy, the credit goes to your experience. Pixabay

If you know when your dog is sad or happy, the credit goes to your experience and learning, not an innate ability to read the facial expression of your “best friend”, suggests new research.

While some dog emotions can be recognised from early on, the ability to reliably recognise dog emotions is mainly acquired through age and experience, said the study.

The findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, showed that the probability of recognising dog emotions was higher for participants who grew up in a cultural context with a positive attitude towards dogs, regardless of whether they owned a dog themselves.

“These results are noteworthy, because they suggest that it is not necessarily direct experience with dogs that affects humans’ ability to recognise their emotions, but rather the cultural milieu in which humans develop,” said study lead author Federica Amici from the Max Planck Institute in Germany.

In order to test how well humans can understand the emotions behind dog facial expressions, the researchers collected photographs of dogs, chimpanzees, and humans displaying either happy, sad, angry, neutral, or fearful emotions as substantiated by the photographers.

They then recruited 89 adult participants and 77 child participants and categorised them according to their age, the dog-positivity of their cultural context and the participants’ personal history of dog ownership.

Each participant was presented with photographs of dogs, chimps and humans and asked to rate how much the individual in the picture displayed happiness, sadness, anger, or fear.

Adults were also asked to determine the context in which the picture had been taken (e.g., playing with a trusted conspecific partner; directly before attacking a conspecific).

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A test was conducted to know how well humans can understand the emotions behind dog facial expressions. Pixabay

The results of the study showed that, while some dog emotions can be recognised from early on, the ability to reliably recognise dog emotions is mainly acquired through age and experience.

In adults, the probability of recognising dog emotions was higher for participants who grew up in a cultural context with a positive attitude towards dogs, regardless of whether they owned a dog themselves.

A dog-positive cultural background, one in which dogs are closely integrated into human life and considered highly important, may result in a higher level of passive exposure and increased inclination and interest in dogs, making humans better at recognising dogs’ emotions even without a history of personal dog ownership.

The researchers also found that regardless of age or experience with dogs, all participants were able to identify anger and happiness reliably.

Also Read- Anxiety Among Teenagers Leads To Harmful Drinking

While these results may suggest an innate ability favoured by the co-domestication hypothesis, it is also possible that humans learn to recognise these emotions quickly, even with limited exposure.

Other than anger and happiness,the children in the study were not good at identifying dog emotions, the study said. (IANS)