New Perspectives on Emotional Contagion: A Review of Classic and Recent Research on Facial Mimicry and Contagion


  • Elaine Hatfield
  • Lisamarie Bensman
  • Paul D. Thornton
  • Richard L. Rapson


Recently, scholars from a wide variety of disciplines, using a variety of scientific techniques, have begun to study the influence of attention, facial mimicry, and social context on emotional contagion. In this paper we will review the classic evidence documenting the role of attention, facial mimicry, and feedback in sparking primitive emotional contagion. Then we will discuss the new evidence which scholars have amassed to help us better understand the role of facial mimicry in fostering contagion and the ability to “read” others’ thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Finally, we will briefly speculate as to where future research might be headed.