Contagious Behavior

          Contagious behavior is an amazingly interesting concept that we as humans are all susceptible to.  From yawning to laughing to rudeness contagious behaviors are something we all have witnessed and most likely experienced.  I think most people have seen a yawn spread through a room after one person yawns or have gotten caught up in contagious laughter with out even know what was funny to begin with. The text defines contagious behavior as “more or less instinctive or reflexive behavior triggered by the occurrence of the same behavior in another individual” (Powell, p. 436).  So seeing a behavior in one person can trigger the same behavior on others. 
         One of the most interesting cases of contagious behavior was the one that took place in a Tennessee high school in the 90’s where a teacher complained of smiling gas and feeling ill because of it this one behavior displayed by one person lead to 100 people ending up in the hospital complaining of the same symptoms as the teacher due.  After investigated it was found that the entire epidemic was based purely on the behavior shown by that one teacher.  It’s amazing how susceptible we are to contagious behaviors like this. 
         I was amazed to find out how many things are considered socially contagious behaviors.  things like rudeness, aggressiveness and bullying things you would think are choices being made by the person participating in the behavior but could be a behavior they have picked up because someone else is presenting the same behavior.  Contagious behaviors like these have been know to spread rapidly in social groups causing social problems for the whole group. 

Powell, R. A., Honey, P. L., & Symbaluk, D. G., (2013). Introduction to learning and behavior. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.