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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

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett is a staff writer at Thriveworks. She devotes herself to distributing important information about mental health and wellbeing, writing mental health news and self-improvement tips daily. Taylor received her bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism, with minors in professional writing and leadership from Virginia Tech. She is a co-author of Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book and has published content on Thought Catalog, Odyssey, and The Traveling Parent.

We wrote a "choose your own adventure" style book about depression. To help as many people as possible, we're selling it for what it costs to print ($6.80) on Check it out: Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book

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