No Vaccine For Human Nature
"Behavioral contagion is a type of social influence. It refers to the propensity for certain behavior exhibited by one person to be copied by others who are either in the vicinity of the original actor, or who have been exposed to media coverage describing the behavior of the original actor. It was originally used by Gustave Le Bon (1895) to explain undesirable aspects of behavior of people in crowds."
"The occurrence of behavioral contagion has been attributed to a variety of different factors, but the predominant theory is that of the reduction of restraints, put forth by Fritz Redl in 1949 and analyzed in depth by Ladd Wheeler in 1966. Even with the popularity of this theory, social psychologists acknowledge a number of factors that influence the likelihood of behavioral contagion occurring, such as deindividuation (Festinger, Pepitone, & Newcomb, 1952) and the emergence of social norms (Turner, 1964). Freedman, Birsky and Cavoukian (1980) have also focused on the effects of physical factors on contagion, in particular, density and number."
"Ogunlade (1979, p. 205) describes behavioral contagion as a “spontaneous, unsolicited and uncritical imitation of another’s behavior” that occurs when certain variables are met: a) the observer and the model share a similar situation or mood (this is one way behavioral contagion can be readily applied to mob psychology); b) the model’s behavior encourages the observer to review his condition and to change it; c) the model’s behavior would assist the observer to resolve a conflict by reducing restraints, if copied; and d) the model is assumed to be a positive reference individual."
Monkey See Monkey Do: How often is it really true?
Influence in Social Media Networks: Sinan Aral at TEDxColumbiaEngineering source: TEDx Talks
"Similarities and differences with other types of social influence"
"Contagion is only one of a myriad of types of social influence.
Conformity / social pressures
Conformity is a type of social influence that is very similar to contagion. It is almost identical to another type of social influence, “pressures toward uniformity” (social pressures) (Festinger, 1954), which differ only in the research techniques they are associated with (Wheeler, 1966, p. 182).
Both conformity and contagion involve some sort of conflict, but differ in the roles other individuals play in that conflict. In conformity, the other individuals of the group try to pressure the observer into performing a behavior; the model then performs some other behavior in the vicinity of the observer. This results in the observer creating restraints against the pressured behavior and a conflict between the pressured behavior and the behavior performed by the model. In the end, the observer either performs the model’s behavior his-/herself, rejects the model, or pressures the model to perform the original pressured behavior (Wheeler, Table 1). In contagion, the model’s behavior results in the removing of restraints and the resolving of the conflict, while in conformity, the model’s behavior results in the creation of restraints and of the conflict.
See also: Social facilitation in animals
Social facilitation, another type of social influence, is distinguished from contagion, as well as from conformity and social pressures, by the lack of any marked conflict. It is said to occur when the performance of an instinctive pattern of behavior by an individual acts as a releaser for the same behavior in others, and so initiates the same line of action in the whole group (Thorpe, 1956, p. 120).Bandura and Walters (1963, p. 79), give the example of an adult, who has lost the unique aspects of the dialect of the region where they were raised, returns for a visit and “regains” those previously lost patterns of speech. Starch (1911) referred to this phenomenon as an “unintentional or unconscious imitation”.
Imitation is different from contagion in that it is learned via reward and punishment and is generalized across situations. Imitation can also be a generic term for contagion, conformity, social pressures, and social facilitation"