How to use Social Contagion for Change

Social Psychology is of great use for everybody that is about to plan a Change. Therefore I decided to start a new series that features some thoughts on Social Psychology and its concepts and theories. This time I want to talk about “Emotions” and how they can be used in Change Projects…

Emotions can spread rapidly through large crowds, as the massive social proof leads us into extreme states. This explains much of crowd behavior, where ‘normal’ people act in ways they may later deeply regret.

Social contagion effects can also occur when people believe they have been infected by a disease. As more people show the (psychosomatic) symptoms, this is taken as proof that ‘I am bound to get it’.

Example
Just watch football matches and see how the crowd reacts almost as one. Or go along and experience it for yourself!

Using it
To wind someone up, take them to an exciting mass-audience event, from sports to rock concerts. Whilst they are in the flow of the moment, start whooping and dancing wildly. They may well join in. Then take a photo of them and show all your friends…

Defending
When at crowd events, by all means get swept up in the enjoyment, but keep a part of you separate, watching for inappropriate behavior in other people. Let it step in to prevent you from slipping over the cliff into hysteria.


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