Fear Is Contagious
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Fear Is Contagious

When encountering what is perceived as a serious threat, animals with strong social structures, such as bees and ants, will release alarm pheromone. The scent attracts other members of the hive or colony to collectively address the threat.
Fear Is Contagious

Humans appear to have a very similar capability. When scared or stressed, humans produce chemosignals, and while you may not consciously recognize the smell of fear or stress, it can have a subconscious impact, making you feel afraid or stressed too.

Humans also tend to mimic the feelings of those around us, and this is yet another way through which an emotion can spread like wildfire through a community or an entire nation — for better or worse. Behavioral psychologists refer to this as “emotional contagion,” and it works both positive and negative emotions.

However, while both positive and negative emotions are contagious, certain emotions spread faster and easier than others. Research cited in the Nova report found that “high arousal” emotions such as awe (high-arousal positive emotion) and anger or anxiety (high-arousal negative emotion) are more “viral” than low-arousal emotions such as happiness or sadness.

The Nova report also points out that researchers have been mining Twitter and other social media data to better understand how emotions are spread, and the types of messages that spread the fastest. However, they ignored the primary culprits, Google and Facebook both of which steal your private data and use it to manipulate your behavior.