ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2013, Vol. 21 ›› Issue (9): 1596-1604.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2013.01596

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What Is Emotional Contagion? The Concept and Mechanism of Emotional Contagion

ZHANG Qiyong;LU Jiamei   

  1. (1 Education college, Shanghai normal university, Shanghai 200234, China) (2 The college of educational science, Yangzhou university, Yangzhou 225002, China)
  • Received:2012-11-09 Online:2013-09-15 Published:2013-09-15
  • Contact: LU Jiamei

Abstract: After studying the literature available about emotional contagion, we found that there existed two different perspectives in the concept of emotional contagion: One is primitive emotional contagion, which considers the emotional contagion as an automatic and unconscious process, and the other is conscious emotional contagion, which sees the emotional contagion as a consciousness-involved process. The reasons of the differences suggested researchers could not distinguish between types of emotional information, i.e. low-level emotional information and high-level emotional information, and between differences in emotional transference mechanism for the both. As a result, the meanings of emotional contagion expanded more and more, and could not indicate what the exact concept was. Disagreements on the concept of emotional contagion brought about a distinction between views of its mechanism. In this article we traced the origin of “contagion” in order to deduce what the emotional contagion is, and made clear what kind of emotional information could be transmitted by emotional contagion. We suggested that only low-level emotional information could be transferred by emotional contagion, and emotional contagion was an automatic, nonconscious process. At the end of the paper, the mechanism of emotional contagion was discussed on the base of above-defined concept and the literature available. The mechanism of emotional contagion: Perception→(Mimicry→Feedback (eliciting mirror neurons))→Emotion.

Key words: primitive emotional contagion, conscious emotional contagion, high-level emotional information, low-level emotional information