Social Contagion 

unemp09

County level unemployment Rate in 2009

Everything is related to everything else.” This very first law of ecology has been well accepted in natural sciences since Barry Commoner (1971) published it in his best seller The Closing Circle. After more than 40 years, however, its impact on social sciences has yet been explored.

In behavioral sciences, for example, network diffusion and contagion are a powerful driving force for attitude and behavior changes. Not only attitudes (e.g., job [dis]satisfaction or grievance) and emotions (e.g., depression, happiness) are contagious, the adoption of behaviors (e.g., risk behaviors such as aggressive drive, smoking, gun purchase, etc; prosocial and health behaviors such as altruism, volunteering, workout, etc; and even deviant workplace behaviors such as lateness, stealing from employers) can be highly contagious as well. Such social influences of diffusion and contagion can become enormous on a national scale. Social diffusion and contagion like this ultimately drive regional cultures as well as political views.

Our Laboratory seeks to understanding the broad definition of Social Contagion that involves diffusion of all social behaviors, attitudes, and emotion, and the networks as conduits for this diffusion. We also examine the antecedents and consequences of social contagion at individual, team, organizational, and societal levels. On the societal level, for instance, unemployment rate can diffuse through geographic networks (sharing boundaries) at either state or county level. At individual level, behaviors, attitudes, and emotion are contagious through interpersonal social networks. 

This project involves retrieving big data from Google search, Twitter and Facebook feeds and analyzing the contents. One simple and interesting question might be whether or not negative emotion is more contagious than positive emotion on Twitter. The possibilities of using big data to answer psychological questions are endless.


Content Research Areas That We Have Been Working On:

Job Attitudes/Engagement; Turnover Behaviors 

Organizational Culture and Climate 

Personality, Emotional Intelligence 

Leadership 

Organizational Justice