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Social contagion is the process that occurs when individuals in a crowd setting share a similar focus and subsequently engage in thinking and behaviors that they would not when alone. Contagion refers to the transmission of similar thoughts and behaviors from person to person. Specifically, those infected by social contagion often become irrational and highly susceptible to the influence of others in the crowd. This is especially likely in ambiguous situations in which people are unsure what is happening and thus they look to others for clarification. However, given that the others may also be confused, looking to them for clarification may lead to even more mistakes in understanding. This entry discusses the historical conceptualization of social contagion, topics linked to social contagion, and ...

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