Margaret Zvanut Social Science
An Exploration of Emotional Contagion in Infants
Emotional contagion is defined as the tendency to automatically mimic and synchronize facial expressions, vocalizations, postures and movement with those of another person. It is a major means by which one human being comes to feel and behave in the same fashion as another, and may be fundamental to empathy and prosocial behavior. For Maggie’s Senior Honors Thesis in Psychology, she will study whether emotional contagion can be seen in young human infants. To conduct this research, she will videotape infants of different ages (4 to 12 months) interacting with their mother while coding the facial, vocal, and bodily expressions of the infants. Maggie’s research will shed light on the origins of emotional contagion and the purpose it might be serving for the development of attachment, social relatedness, empathy, and prosocial behavior in the infant and young child.