A group of Swedish scientists from Karolinska Institute, was able to prove that a person can “infect” others with fears and phobias, and to understand what evolutionary mechanisms are behind this. Psychologists have figured out how to counteract this process.
As the researchers explain, people are “programmed” by evolution to observe the behavior of others and to take into account their reaction to various phenomena, building your own behaviour — psychologists call this process of “social learning”. Especially clearly this is manifested psychological feature when it comes to such bright and directly related to the survival and security of the emotion as fear.
The feasibility of such evolutionary adaptations are quite obvious, scientists say: it helps people to avoid danger and allows children to take an example from adults. Sometimes, however, a useful mechanism fails, and this can lead to the spread of anxiety disorders among people who spend a lot of time together, whether family members or people from the same company of good friends. The researchers note that that fear is “contagious”, was to some extent known for a long time, however, methods of “countering” the process, or at least its containment today practically worked out. To fill this gap and tried experts at the Karolinska Institute.
Psychologists have carried out a series of experiments, one of the participants which were recorded on video, while others had to watch this video. The first participant was looking at two pictures of faces of angry men, and while watching one of the demonstrations he received a weak, but unpleasant electric shock. As a result, who conducted the “demonstrations” were formed hostility towards one of the portraits, and then she, like, causeless anxiety, and transmitted to many “spectators”.
To prevent the “contagion of fear”, scientists were able, when they originally showed the “audience” video in which the man calmly looks at the two portraits, and they do not cause him fear. After that, even if the people showed their fear, the members have not started to take one of the portraits as something dangerous. Interestingly, the preview of the portraits without the person next to them to the effect of “social learning” is not mitigated.