The Ripple Effect: Emotional Contagion and Its Influence on Group Behavior
Organizational Behavior and Theory
Group emotional contagion, the transfer of moods among people in a group, and its influence on work group dynamics was examined in a laboratory study of managerial decision making using multiple, convergent measures of mood, individual attitudes, behavior, and group-level dynamics. Using a 2 times 2 experimental design, with a trained confederate enacting mood conditions, the predicted effect of emotional contagion was found among group members, using both outside coders' ratings of participants' mood and participants' self-reported mood. No hypothesized differences in contagion effects due to the degree of pleasantness of the mood expressed and the energy level with which it was conveyed were found. There was a significant influence of emotional contagion on individual-level attitudes and group processes. As predicted, the positive emotional contagion group members experienced improved cooperation, decreased conflict, and increased perceived task performance. Theoretical implications and practical ramifications of emotional contagion in groups and organizations are discussed.