EMOTIONAL CONTAGION - SOMETHING YOU DON'T WANT TO CATCH

Created: Wednesday, 21 October 2009 Written by Prof Williams Xenox Institute
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Could it be that a guilty person can be identified by just a glance? Perhaps how your face responds to an inquisitive look could be beyond your control.

 

The spontaneous tendency to synchronize our facial expressions with those of others is often termed emotional contagion.

 

New research has identified that how we react to others facial cues is not due to a transmittance to your thinking brain but is directly transmitted to your reflexive brain. ie the inner reptile.

 

 Emotional contagion occurs also when the triggering stimulus cannot be consciously perceived.

 

How much we do is pure instinct? We love to pride ourselves on our mental independence when in reality we cannot control ourselves at all. Our lives pre-destined at birth to be a mish mash of thoughtless actions and responses to outside influences. I long ago gave up any pretence of having control over my body. So now I wander the world with my erections and spontaneous flatulence, unhindered by any social mores. I have no shame because I know reflexively it is a false emotion. Likewise any ideas of emotional independence.

 

This shows that the patients did not simply imitate the motor pattern observed in the stimuli, but resonated to their affective meaning.

 

Can we use this to control others? To me this is the fundamental question raised by this research. And here at Xenox Institute you can be damn sure we will be bending all our mental faculties to answering it. For by using the instinctive control a mere 'look' can gain over an individual we could perhaps ultimately gain a great tool for good. Or evil.

Whichever I feel like on the day.