The Powerful Impact of ‘Catching’ your Friends’ Emotions

We’re all familiar with catching a cold from someone else, but did you know that research suggests you can catch an emotional virus from those you interact with socially too?

This week I’ve got a science-backed reason as to why surrounding yourself with a social circle of positive people could be useful for you (and why you being in a good mood could help them too).

Emotional contagion’ is the phenomenon we’re talking about here – the fact that research suggests our emotions spread to those who we interact with socially, for better or for worse. Psychologists at the University of Warwick, UK, recently looked into the mood of US adolescents and found a link between their mood and those of whom were surrounding themselves with. Specifically, those whose moods were more positive tended to have friends whose moods were more upbeat too, whilst those whose friends were less positive tended to not feel so good.

The phenomenon leaves me to ponder 2 questions. Firstly, what type of people are you generally interacting with as they might be having more of an effect on your mood than you realise (and if it is negative it might be time to spend less time with them). Secondly, what type of emotions are you generally ‘infecting’ your friends with? There certainly is nothing wrong with sharing life’s negatives with them, as that’s what friends are for, but if you constantly see the world as a glass half empty, you might be having a negative impact on their mood too.

Let me re-iterate, we’re not talking about being obsessively positive. Negative emotions play an important part in life and it’s much better to accept them and investigate them than to push them aside. I am not therefore advocating the idea that you should be happy and positive all the time as science doesn’t back that up for a long-term strategy for life. However I ask you again this week what type of emotion will you generally be exposed to this week and what type are you giving off too?

I’ll be back next week with some more meetology® – helping you thrive professionally and personally by making people skills one of your superpowers.

Have a good 7 days,


Jonathan Bradshaw
The Meetology® Lab


Eyre RW, House T, Hill EM, Griffiths FE. 2017 Spreading of components of mood in adolescent social networks. R. Soc.
open sci. 4: 170336.




About the Author:

Jonathan Bradshaw presents and trains internationally on the fascinating psychology powering exceptional interpersonal communication. He is Founder of the Meetology® Lab and leads the company’s team of behavioral psychologists in collating and sharing cutting-edge research on exceptional people skills. As an experienced and engaging keynote speaker Jon has presented at conferences and business events in over 30 countries and is an award-winning columnist and blogger. Learn more about him speaking at your next event via or connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.