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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.

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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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Contraceptive Pills May Impair Women’s Ability to Recognise Emotion: Study

There is a need for further studies that replicate and extend the findings of the present study before thinking about changing current guidelines regarding the prescription of OCPs, the study noted

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Despite the widespread use of oral contraceptives (OCPs) by women, many are not aware that it may impair their ability to recognise others’ emotional expressions, which may have serious consequences in interpersonal contexts, suggests a new study.

The study showed that healthy women who use birth control pills are poorer judges of subtle facial expressions than non-users.

“More than 100 million women worldwide use oral contraceptives, but remarkably little is known about their effects on emotion, cognition and behaviour,” said senior author Alexander Lischke from the University of Greifswald in Germany.

“However, coincidental findings suggest that oral contraceptives impair the ability to recognise emotional expressions of others which could affect the way users initiate and maintain intimate relationships,” said Lischke.

To investigate the effects of OCPs on women’s emotion recognition, the researchers administered a special emotion recognition task to two similar groups of healthy women: 42 OCP users and 53 non-users.

Birth control pills could impair women’s ability to recognise emotion. (Representational Image). Pixabay

The findings, published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, showed that OCP users were nearly 10 per cent less accurate on average than non-users in deciphering the most enigmatic emotional expressions.

Though the groups were equally good at recognising easy expressions, the OCP users were less likely to correctly identify difficult expressions, results showed.

The effect held for both positive and negative expressions, and regardless of the type of OCP or the menstrual cycle phase of non-users.

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“Cyclic variations of estrogen and progesterone levels are known to affect women’s emotion recognition and influence activity and connections in associated brain regions. Since oral contraceptives work by suppressing estrogen and progesterone levels, it makes sense that oral contraceptives also affect women’s emotion recognition,” said Lischke.

There is a need for further studies that replicate and extend the findings of the present study before thinking about changing current guidelines regarding the prescription of OCPs, the study noted. (IANS)