The Ripple Effect: Emotional Contagion in Groups

68 Pages Posted: 30 Jul 2001

See all articles by Sigal G. Barsade

Sigal G. Barsade

University of Pennsylvania - Management Department

Date Written: October 2000


Emotional contagion, the transfer of emotion between individuals, and its influence on work group dynamics was examined in two managerial simulations using multiple, convergent measures of emotions and group dynamics. The studies tested hypotheses on differential contagion effects due to the degree of pleasantness of the emotion, and the energy with which this pleasantness was conveyed. After determining that emotional contagion existed in groups, I then examined the influence of emotional contagion on individual-level attitudes and group processes. As predicted, experiencing positive emotional contagion led to improved cooperation, decreased conflict, and increased perceptions of task performance - all as rated by self, other group members, and outside video-coders. The opposite was the case when experiencing negative emotional contagion. Theoretical implications and practical ramifications of emotional contagion in groups and organizations are discussed.

Suggested Citation

Barsade, Sigal G., The Ripple Effect: Emotional Contagion in Groups (October 2000). Available at SSRN: or

Sigal G. Barsade (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Management Department ( email )

The Wharton School
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6370
United States

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