You try avoid picking up germs from someone who is coughing, but when you encounter a person who is in a bad mood, you can just as easily pick up their cranky germs. Moods are contagious.
It’s easy to catch a good mood. When you’re at work and co-workers have good news about something or someone, they want to share with you. They seem excited as they tell the good news. Everyone is in a better mood.
The contagious quality of mood and emotion has been one of the most widely studied of all the different forms of contagion. Without consciously trying, people are extremely good at picking up on other people’s negative or positive emotions, according to the Association for Psychological Science.
They call the situation emotional contagion. The first step involves unconscious copying of facial expressions and movements. Seeing a smile makes you smile. Seeing a frown makes you more likely to frown.
If you’re both frowning, maybe you’ll start to feel bad too. You may share emotions and experiences until you are both in the same mood.
Mood copying is common when you’re are in frequent contact with others. When a friend or co-worker is in a mood, it’s more likely that you’ll catch it than if you’re dealing with a stranger.
Marriage researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that husbands experienced lower marital satisfaction when their wives reported higher stress. Wives were less affected by their husband’s stress levels.
Studies emphasize the importance of choosing friends wisely. People who are positive and upbeat can make you feel the same way.
While it may be best to ignore a someone’s bad mood, if you really feel you can help with a problem, maybe you can pass your good mood on to that person.