New study finds teenagers catch moods and negative moods are more contagious

Mental health and emotional wellbeing among young people could be better understood by findings in a recently-published paper from Oxford and Birmingham universities, which reveal that teenagers catch moods from friends and bad moods are more contagious than good ones.

The authors Dr Per Block, of the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, and Dr Stephanie Burnett Heyes, of The University of Birmingham’s School of Psychology, hope the ground-breaking study could lead to improved understanding of emotional wellbeing.

Dr Block says, ‘Our study shows conclusively that individuals are affected by how others around them are feeling. Mood is contagious, and though both positive and negative moods are ‘caught’, bad moods are more potent.

‘We hope it is a step towards understanding why people fall into prolonged low states, the social factors that determine emotional wellbeing in adolescents, and, in the long run, how it may be possible to provide emotional support leading to improved mental health.’


Read more on the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science website

A teenager looking at a phone. Photocredit Shutterstock