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Title: Cognitive strategies for controlling emotional contagion 
Author: Rempala, Dan
Date: 2008
Abstract: Emotional contagion involves "catching" the emotions of others. In many instances, such contagion is beneficial, as it allows us to partake in another person's joy or gain greater understanding of another's experience. However, persistent exposure to a people who are experiencing negative emotions can take a toll on an individual, with consequences ranging from discomfort to emotional bum-out. This study examined the effect of three moderating strategies on emotional contagion. Participants watched three video clips of individuals speaking to the camera and were instructed to treat the situation as though they were a therapist observing a client-the person on the video tape. Half of the participants watched three clips of individuals talking about the happiest day of their lives, while the other half watched three clips of individuals talking about the saddest day of their lives. When each clip was complete, the participant was asked to provide a two or three sentence verbal response to the "client." The entire process was video taped. The measures of emotional contagion involved were facial affect and self-reported emotion. Prior to engaging in the experimental task, each of the participants was given one of four sets of instructions corresponding with one of the following cognitive strategies: a) Empathic Imagery, b) Dissociation, c) Empathic Reflection, and d) no instruction (control). The Empathic Imagery strategy was expected to increase the experience of contagion, while Voluntary Dissociation and Empathic Reflection were expected to decrease the experience of contagion. However, when the verbal content was analyzed, participants given Empathic Reflection instructions were expected to be more engaged in the interaction than those instructed to dissociate. Based on the Self-Report Contagion variable, there was evidence to indicate that Dissociation and Empathic Reflection decreased emotional contagion as compared to the other two conditions. However, there was no significant impact of the instruction condition on the facial affect contagion variable. Even more surprising, there was no effect of instruction on any of the engagement variables. The results of this study fail to provide much support for the experimental hypotheses. Several possible reasons for the lack of significant results are discussed.
Description: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2008. Based on the Self-Report Contagion variable, there was evidence to indicate that Dissociation and Empathic Reflection decreased emotional contagion as compared to the other two conditions. However, there was no significant impact of the instruction condition on the facial affect contagion variable. Even more surprising, there was no effect of instruction on any of the engagement variables. Emotional contagion involves "catching" the emotions of others. In many instances, such contagion is beneficial, as it allows us to partake in another person's joy or gain greater understanding of another's experience. However, persistent exposure to a people who are experiencing negative emotions can take a toll on an individual, with consequences ranging from discomfort to emotional burn-out. This study examined the effect of three moderating strategies on emotional contagion. Participants watched three video clips of individuals speaking to the camera and were instructed to treat the situation as though they were a therapist observing a client---the person on the video tape. Half of the participants watched three clips of individuals talking about the happiest day of their lives, while the other half watched three clips of individuals talking about the saddest day of their lives. When each clip was complete, the participant was asked to provide a two or three sentence verbal response to the "client." The entire process was video taped. The measures of emotional contagion involved were facial affect and self-reported emotion. Prior to engaging in the experimental task, each of the participants was given one of four sets of instructions corresponding with one of the following cognitive strategies: (a) Empathic Imagery, (b) Dissociation, (c) Empathic Reflection, and (d) no instruction (control). The Empathic Imagery strategy was expected to increase the experience of contagion, while Voluntary Dissociation and Empathic Reflection were expected to decrease the experience of contagion. However, when the verbal content was analyzed, participants given Empathic Reflection instructions were expected to be more engaged in the interaction than those instructed to dissociate. The results of this study fail to provide much support for the experimental hypotheses. Several possible reasons for the lack of significant results are discussed. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 76-94). Also available by subscription via World Wide Web 94 leaves, bound 29 cm
ISBN: 9780549596240
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/20874
Rights: All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.

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