Science University Research Symposium (SURS)

Emotional Impact of Social Conformity on Abnormal Behavior

Publication Date

Fall 11-30-2023


Sciences and Mathematics, College of


Psychological Science, Department of

SURS Faculty Advisor

Carole Scherling PhD. (

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


Emotions are central to societal interactions, with certain expectations reigning for particular circumstances in terms of the permissibility to express emotion types, as well as their duration and intensity. Research indicates that emotional contagion in groups improves social cohesion, as one reflexively mimics and synchronizes expressions (Hatfield, 1993). Meanwhile, when people act in unexpected and improper ways, it affects impressions of surroundings and the subjective emotional experience (Barett, 2012). The current study aims to investigate emotional contagion in dyad situations while witnessing unexpected emotional reactions. Forty participants were blindly paired with a confederate to view 2 video clips, while continuous self-reports of valence on a 7 point Likert scale were recorded, as well as skin conductance and heart rate. All participants viewed one positively-valenced and one negatively-valenced clip, with randomized order assignment. While they watched the clips in dyads, the first clip always involved the confederate demonstrating the expected emotional reaction and the second involved the confederate manifesting an unexpected emotional expression. A decrease in self-reported emotional intensity is expected in the non-expected emotional dyad condition, regardless of emotion. Data is currently being analyzed…. This study provides a sneak peek into how unusual social conduct impacts emotional responses.

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