Emotions can be hard to manage. We spend a lot of time trying to regulate them with things like yoga, meditation, deep breathing in a locked bathroom, or a good old-fashioned bitch session with our friends. But some new research shows that our inner motivations, how we want to feel, can have a lot of impact on how we’re affected by the moods of others.
Stanford psychologists recently studied the way our emotions are affected by other people. What they found, as published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, is that we’re more influenced by people who are showing the emotions we want to feel and less influenced by others. A lot of what they looked at related to how people reacted to politically charged events and how those emotional responses played out on social media.
Writer Alex Shashkevich recaps their findings in Greater Good Magazine:
Their study found that when a person wanted to stay calm, they remained relatively unfazed by angry people, but if they wanted to feel angry, then they were highly influenced by angry people. The researchers also discovered that people who wanted to feel angry also got more emotional when they learned that other people were just as upset as they were, according to the results from a series of laboratory experiments the researchers conducted.
In other words, if you feel like getting all riled up, then others who are already pissed off are going to help you with that. But if you want to stay calm, the angries won’t have the same effect.
The study’s lead author, Amit Goldenberg, told Greater Good Magazine, “It seems that the best way to regulate your emotions is to start with the selection of your environment. If you don’t want to be angry today, one way to do that is to avoid angry people.”
It might seem like common sense, but if you want to “catch” a good mood, you have to 1. want it and then 2. seek it out.
If you want to be calm and peaceful, invite your most serene friend out for coffee. If you need a boost of positivity, stop after work to chat with the annoyingly perky neighbour.
Or, if you want to be mad, hop on Twitter.