Teenagers can “catch” moods from friends, study finds

A recent study by Oxford and Birmingham universities in the UK investigating “emotional contagion” among teenagers has suggested that teenagers can “catch” moods from their friends and negative moods appear to be more contagious than positive.

Tendency to Reflect the Moods of Those You Spend Time With

The study reveals that people’s moods become similar to those of the people they stay in proximity to, but there is a tolerance of different moods. Also, grumpy teenagers are no less popular with their peers than the most cheerful ones.


Dr. Per Block, of Oxford’s Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, said: One of the authors, Dr. Per Block, of Oxford’s Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, said: “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.”


However, the study also found that mood is not a determiner of popularity and teenagers were also as capable of influencing their friend with their positive mood as they were of catching the friend’s bad mood.

An Important Piece of Research

The findings of this research are in direct opposition to earlier research which suggested that good mood is more contagious than bad and that bad mood is an indication of social withdrawal. This latest study presented no evidence that teenagers in a bad mood withdraw.


Vice chair of the British Psychological Society’s Division for Educational and Child Psychology, Vivian Hill said: “This is an important piece of research, using a fascinating methodology, at a time of increasing concern about the mental health needs of young people.


‘Current research looking at the mental health and mood states of children and young people suggest that the level of the incidence of low mood states is much higher than was initially understood.