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Emotional Contagion

R. William Doherty, Lisa Orimoto, Theodore M. Singelis, Elaine Hatfield, Janine Hebb

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Theorists have proposed that men and women and those in various occupational groups should differ in their susceptibility to primitive emotional contagion. Study 1 was designed to explore the extent to which gender and occupation affected respondents’ self-reports of emotional contagion, as measured by the Emotional Contagion (EC) scale. As predicted, women in a variety of occupations secured higher total EC scores than did men. Study 2 was designed to determine the extent to which gender affected self-reports of emotional contagion (again as measured by the EC scale) and actual responsiveness to others’ emotions. As predicted, women received higher EC scores, reported sharing the targets’ emotions to a greater extent, and were rated by judges as displaying more emotional contagion than did men.