Previous research suggests that the persons around us have a strong influence on our mood. But a new study from Stanford University says we can control whether our emotions are influenced by others.

Researchers showed 107 participants potentially upsetting images like someone burning an American flag. The researchers also told participants how other people reacted to the images.

The research team found that participants who wanted to stay calm were three times more likely to be influenced by others expressing calm emotions than those expressing anger. And participants who wanted to feel angry were also three times more likely to be influenced by other angry people, as opposed to those expressing calm emotions.

This study suggests that our want to feel or not feel a certain way determines whether we are influenced by someone else’s emotions.


Coles, N. A., Larsen, J. T., & Lench, H. C. (2019). A meta-analysis of the facial feedback literature: effects of facial feedback on emotional experience are small and variable. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Retrieved from