Emotion Contagion Throughout Relationship Formation: A Longitudinal Dyadic Conversation Study

Tsang, Shelly, Psychology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Wood, Adrienne, AS-Psychology, University of Virginia

Emotional contagion is seen to be an affiliation tool and a byproduct of all different stages of relationships, from strangers to romantic relationships. Although the processes and implications for emotion contagion has been studied at different levels of relationships independently, limited research has documented how emotion contagion occurs over the course of relationship development. In our exploratory study, participants were paired with people they previously did not know and had conversations with each other once a week for six weeks. At each session, we measured participants’ valence and arousal of emotion and how close they felt to their partner. We found that how much people changed their emotions over the course of the interaction and how similar the two members of a dyad were in emotion valence after the interaction were both more associated with how close they felt to their partner in the first sessions but were not associated with the change in closeness over time. In other words, emotion contagion seems to matter more for the onset of relationships than for the development. We discuss how this work expands upon the existing research of emotion contagion in relationships.

MA (Master of Arts)
Emotion contagion
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