WENDY BERRY MENDES, PhD, focuses her research on embodiment – how emotions, thoughts and intentions are experienced in the brain and body and how neurobiological changes influence behavior and cognition. Currently she is the senior editor at Psychological Science, President of the Society for Affective Science, and serves on the executive board of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology.
Her seminar will focus on affect contagion — the spread of affective states—including stress, emotions, evaluations—from one person to another.
She will discuss a series of experiments exploring the antecedents and consequences of affect contagion using dynamic psychophysiological measurement. The experiments include ones focusing on mothers and children and explore how infants (12 to 14 month olds) “catch” their mothers’ stress reactivity and how touch potentiates stress contagion. Another series of experiments explore how recently acquainted individuals can catch each others’ affective state and how moderators such as racial/ethnic group, social standing, valence and empathetic tendencies moderate affect contagion.