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Abstract

This study examined strategies for limiting susceptibility to “catching” negative emotions from others. Participants watched 3 videos of happy or sad individuals, as though they were therapists interacting with clients. The entire process was videotaped. Emotional contagion was measured by facial affect and self-reports. Prior to viewing the videos, participants were assigned one of 4 cognitive strategies: (a) empathic imagery; (b) dissociation; (c) reflection; or (d) no instruction (control). Empathic imagery was expected to increase contagion vs. the control, while dissociation and reflection were expected to decrease contagion. Results indicated that only dissociation decreased contagion on both measures.