As social beings, people are naturally interdependent. Just how interdependent isn't entirely understood, but one study and one report — one from the University of British Columbia and the other by the American Psychological Association — demonstrate that our ability to share emotions runs much deeper.
At the University of British Columbia, Christiane Hoppmann, professor of psychology, gleaned insights in the Seattle Longitudinal Study. This long-term study has followed more than 6,000 individuals since 1956. Their emotional state, according to the findings, is often tied more to the emotional state of their spouse than their own personal success, good health, and inner peace.
The study was recently covered by the MSNBC. While the study focused primarily on married couples, researchers theorize that it happens the same in friendships or with individuals who share a lot of joint experiences.
Stress Spreads Rapidly Through Immediate Social Circles.
This seems to be supported by a recent report from the American Psychological Association, which reveals that 90 percent of children and adolescents surveyed said they can tell when their parents are stressed based on how they act. The actions do not always have to be direct; people who are stressed exhibit less patience, irritability, and forgetfulness.
But parental stress doesn't end with the parents. As many as 47 percent of preteens (8- to 12-year-olds) and 33 percent of teens feel sad when their parents are stressed. The Dallas News recently spoke with several psychiatrists who believe such stress can lead to stress or even depression in children.
Social Media Magnifies The Emotional Charge.
Dan Zarrella tracked the impact of overly negative remarks and attitudes online over 100,000 accounts. His findings suggest that while negativity might create a spike in attention, negative people tend to lose followers over the long term.
Recently, Zarrella expanded on his tracking to conclude that people don't like spreading negative news on Twitter or Facebook. In fact, he rightly suggests that is why people turn increasingly to social media as opposed to mainstream media for their news. They've reached their threshold.
Marketers Might Consider What This Means.
When you visit a Facebook account like Delta and a Facebook account like Coke, you will find decidedly different experiences. The members of one are mostly positive. The members of the other are mostly negative.
It's pretty easy to guess which is which. What is more difficult to ascertain is how many members don't take the time to "unlike" the account. They just don't go back, unless they have another negative experience to share.
Imagine what this might do to anyone visiting an account looking for positive information about a company. Otherwise happy people could easily become hyper-sensitive in looking for more problems. Ergo, you reap what you sow. And every now and again, it really pays to consider what you might be spreading.
After all, if spouses and parents can spread stress and depression, it stands to reason that they have an equal shot at spreading kindness and happiness too. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean everything you write about or talk about has to be another Kumbaya session, especially if it is faked. But it certainly might give you another reason to remain constructive in your approach while tempering how many "Debbie Downers" you enable or even how often you watch the news.