Unthinking, Quick and Gradual – Constructive Psychology Information

Donald Officer, MA ’89, is a strategic pondering practitioner who melds downside fixing analysis fashions to assist shoppers anticipate surprising eventualities and alternatives whereas pursuing what’s most significant to them. Along with teaching, facilitation, and consulting Don blogs at The Intention Coach, the place he welcomes feedback. He’s an authorized facilitator and a member of the Worldwide Coach Federation and the Canadian Constructive Psychology Affiliation. Donald’s articles could be discovered
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Emotions Don’t Think: Emotional Contagion in a Time of Turmoil By Bruce Hutchison, Ph.D. 328 pp. Crossfield Publishing 2021.

Emotions don't think book cover

The total title of this e-book by medical psychologist Bruce Hutchison could give some readers pause. Perhaps linking emotion with one other latest and deeply consequential contagion comes too quickly for consolation. Perhaps we by no means made this connection earlier than. Perhaps we’d want to keep away from the invention of how completely feelings can compel us.

Bruce Hutchison supplies proof from a number of views. People will not be answerable for being contaminated by emotional contagion, however it’s as much as every of us to note, contemplate impacts, then act or not. Feelings don’t assume, however people do. As Daniel Kahneman may put it and Bruce Hutchison reframes in his e-book, utilizing a thought-about, sluggish pondering strategy as a substitute of an impulsive or reflexive emotional response to provocation is a primary line of protection to both ill-considered impulses or infectious triggers.

The sensible downside with emotional contagion is not only in recognizing the outbreak. By then it may be too late to avoid wasting both self or a contact neighborhood from ailing impact. As with different types of contagion, noticeable particular person signs are lagging indicators. However are there strategic instruments to identify ominous spreads from afar? When you or folks near you do catch an emotional an infection, how ought to or not it’s handled? Can this sort of wave be contained? This e-book contributes to detection, identification, and containment.

Constructive Psychology as First Support and Immunity Booster

Writer, Dr. Bruce Hutchison

It will not be the first focus of the e-book, however Dr. Hutchison acknowledges the intersection of his recommendation with the pillars of optimistic psychology. For instance, optimistic feelings can function an antidote to being overwhelmed by concern or anger. They broaden pondering, deterring prejudice whereas serving to us put a finest face on uncertainty, reframing it as alternative.

Consider emotional contagion as a robust tide. Constructive feelings could be seawalls in opposition to surges of enticement by opening our minds to attainable hurt. Highly effective strengths like braveness, resilience, persistence, and persistence can overcome the tide of fearful aversion or cynical despair. Likewise, strong relational attachments, dedicated engagement, significant involvement, and the remembrance of previous accomplishments supply bulwarks in opposition to tempting impulses.

The place Do Emotional Contagions Come From?

To discover the place contagion threats come from, Hutchison brings his expertise as a psychotherapist to bear. Particularly, he acknowledges that he too isn’t proof against contagion. Feelings are integral to who we’re, or assume we’re, and even want we weren’t.

Angry man & pointing fingersAnalysis psychologist Elaine Hatfield outlined emotional contagion in 1994 as “the tendency to mechanically mimic and synchronize facial expressions, postures, and actions with these of one other individual, and consequently, to converge emotionally.”

Hutchison has a extra open-ended definition. Truthful sufficient: sometime the science will catch up. Whereas the narrower tutorial specification factors out some observable sources of contagion, Hutchison’s open-ended view can be wanted as a result of, like some organic contagions, harmful kinds could be virtually invisible till too late. For instance, the media now accessible all over the place spreads concepts exponentially. Dangerous actors, the confused, terrified, and misinformed have weaponized the instruments that had been first meant for innocuous transactions, resulting in suspicion and misunderstanding. What’s at stake? Autonomy, dignity, efficacy, company. This stuff matter.

It’s simple to see how skepticism about messaging might produce elevated susceptibility to emotional and social contagion. Incomplete narratives are put unsure when extra satisfying, usually fictitious, variations seem. Hypothesis and suspicion result in rumor. Entertaining rumors are infectious and typically dangerous. As Hutchison observes, a world in turmoil wants little to spark full-on contagion.   

How Can You Inform if You’re Contaminated?

Contagion Dashboard

Contagion Dashboard

As a result of we’re all as inclined to emotional contagion as we’re to organic threats, we have to turn into conscious of the underlying situations which improve vulnerability in addition to the harmful locations the place an infection lies in ambush. Feelings Don’t Suppose consists of a captivating catalogue of dangers.

Positions we take could begin as reasoned opinions. But when we don’t keep watch over how our beliefs play out in follow, causes can degenerate into rationalizations, particularly if we spend money on flattering finest case outcomes rising from handy positions.  

Conspiracy Theories

Angry teeth

Anger spreads

Citing the panic shopping for of bathroom paper in the course of the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, Hutchison reminds us that our default tendency is to visualise worst case outcomes after which deal with these as sure. Doubting science and resenting inconvenience, some folks grew to become suspicious of all official sources, inflicting them to show to extra doubtful ones. Circumstances had been set for successive waves of harmful emotional contagion.

Conspiracy theories unfold, significantly by social media, which disseminated outlandish, more and more sinister gossip. Many began to mistrust virtually all different sources whereas infecting their very own cults with fearful suspicion.

They’d assist from the remainder of society too. Intrusive manipulative messaging and unwarranted surveillance have turn into singular threats to privateness, voice, and private company. Equally troubling is the poisonous nurture of an delinquent mindset. Backlash is triggered in response to offensive intrusions. It takes braveness, stamina, and resilience to maintain checking for correct statements, dependable sources, believable motives, and acceptable dangers of contagion. As with some somatic infections, signs could also be invisible to the stricken however seen to others.

NASA image of lights

Might the contagion activate lights.

Some Stress is Good for You and So Are Some Emotional Contagions

Stress can construct up resilience, the power to resist oppressive strain. Hutchison endorses optimistic capability constructing, explaining that contagious optimism is able to reviving communities in instances of turmoil and disruption. He additionally uncovers a number of methods contagion can improve social relations, establishments, vital processes, even entire societies.


To his credit score, Hutchison avoids making his e-book an inadvertent supply of  emotional contagion  The tone is evident, and the assertions constant. The writer balances critique with deep expertise.

Constructive psychology practices may also help create robust resilient leaders whose strengths are positively contagious, inflicting emotional contagion to circulate constructively.  Studying to differentiate between optimistic and unfavorable emotional contagion is necessary.  Bruce Hutchison’s e-book is a well timed step alongside that path.


Hutchison, B. (2021). Emotions Don’t Think: Emotional Contagion in a Time of Turmoil. Crossfield Publishing.

Barrett, L. F. (2020). 7 ½ Lessons About the Brain.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Gladwell, M. (2002). The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. Again Bay Books.

Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, Fast and Slow. London, Allen Lane.

Kravetz, L. D. (2017). Strange Contagion: Contained in the Stunning Science of Infectious Behaviors and Viral Feelings and What They Inform Us About Ourselves. New York: Harper Collins.

Rosin, H. (2015, Dec). The Silicon Valley Suicides: Why are so many kids with bright prospects killing themselves in Palo Alto?  The Atlantic.

Thompson, D. (2017). Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction. New York: Penguin Press.

Picture Credit

Contagion Dashboard Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash
Angry Teeth Photo by Nsey Benajah on Unsplash
NASA Lights Photo by NASA on Unsplash