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Social Contagion

The term social contagion refers to communicable behavior, emotions, and other mental states that spread via direct or indirect social contact. Psychologically, social contagion can be understood as an unintended form of social influence, in which social contact appears to be a sufficient condition for imitation to occur. For example, an elementary case of social contagion is infectious yawning, in which exposure to someone yawning acts as a stimulus for a yawning response. Smiling, laughter, crying, itching, emotions, and, more controversially, mental distress and some psychosomatic symptoms also appear to be socially contagious. Beyond the psychological meaning of the term, social contagion is employed in the study of social networks to denote the nonspecific propagation of behavior through a network, whereas in marketing, the term ...

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