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Psychology Emotions

Emotions Don't Think - Emotional Contagion in a Time of Turmoil

Emotional Contagion in a Time of Turmoil

by (author) Bruce Hutchison

Crossfield Publishing
Initial publish date
Aug 2021
Emotions, Popular Culture
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2021
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 14 to 18
  • Grade: 9 to 12


We live in a time whe the world is facing an invisible enemy. The pandemic surges, and social relations are fraught with turmoil. Emotions are on edge and people fear for their lives. We face turmoil, but turmoil does not come without emotions. Little has been written about the power of emotions and emotional contagion in this time of global turmoil until now. Dr. Bruce Hutchison describes emotional contagion as one of the most powerful forces at play in society and in politics in the last few decades, building to the 2020-21 crescendo. We need to learn about how to handle it to help us adapt to today’s stress. Dr. Hutchison’s book helps us learn how to do that. Emotions are contagious and infectious and often spread from one person to another, so you can get infected by emotions when you are around people. This affects people during troubled times. Emotions don’t think and yet so many people base their decisions on emotions, including their votes. Dangerous, infectious emotions spread like a virus and infect others. Pessimism, cynicism, depression, fear, hate, panic, anxiety, disgust and suspicion are all contagious. So are violence and conspiracies. These emotions spread and put people into turmoil. People use these emotions to think, but emotions can only feel. EMOTIONS DON’T THINK.

About the author

Born and raised in Winnipeg, MB, Canada, I was educated in Winnipeg, as well as in Ottawa, Ontario. I attended the University of Manitoba (United College), now the University of Winnipeg, where I received my B.A., and then did Graduate Studies and received my M.A. in Psychology from the University of Manitoba. I later studied in Ottawa, Ontario at the Faculty of Psychology where I received my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Ottawa.

Bruce Hutchison's profile page

Excerpt: Emotions Don't Think - Emotional Contagion in a Time of Turmoil: Emotional Contagion in a Time of Turmoil (by (author) Bruce Hutchison)

Dangerous, infectious emotions can spread like a virus and infect others. Pessimism, cynicism, depression, fear, hate, panic, anxiety, disgust, and suspicion are all contagious negative emotions. These emotions seem to spread when society is in turmoil. So do violence, demoralization, and conspiracy worries, which are also contagious. This puts society into turmoil. Some people use emotions to think, but emotions can only feel. Instead, we need to think, by using systematic reasoning and critical thinking.

Our usual focus is on the visible and the tangible, but this is to our detriment. People are becoming more aware of the contagious effects of emotions, as well as the associated phenomenon of conspiracy theories. Because emotions don’t think, but rather carry vague messages and information, they seem to have kidnapped the minds of some people, leaving them with less critical thinking and systematic reasoning ability than before, especially at times like this when emotions are so high.

We can choose to listen to messages with our cognitive abilities, rather than choosing to use our emotional reactions in determining how we react. We can use systematic reasoning, critical thinking, and other methods. We can choose to blend those methods with emotion. Our cognitive abilities can put the necessary proviso on the incoming emotions: figure out what they are trying to say, keep them realistic, add perspective, conditions, and limitations, treat them as only possibilities, and think more about them later. Our cognitive abilities are the executive part of our mind, receiving and considering input, dismissing some, accepting some, and balancing it out. Our emotions are often necessary to provide wisdom, which is the midpoint between cold, hard fact and pure, emotion-based feedback.

This book is designed to provide a psychosocial education, so most readers should adopt the perspective of learning about and working on overcoming the power of negative emotional and social contagion. This perspective will minimize an overly emotional reaction from some readers. We will explore how to overcome negative emotional contagion and how to minimize its impact when it occurs. While it might be impossible to prevent entirely, we can slow it down.

Editorial Reviews

"Dr. Bruce Hutchison brilliantly defines how to recognize our emotions, how to inoculate ourselves, and how to deal with them, from a cognitive point of view. This highly readable book is very timely, and a wonderful resource for all of us who are struggling to understand and deal with the turmoil and stress of today's society." Dr. David Nozick, C.Psych., author of Life's Lessons: Illegitimi Non Carborundum: Don't Let the Bastards Wear You Down

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