7 Behaviors That Are Actually Contagious, According To Science

Certain behaviors — like laughing and yawning — can be easier to catch than the cold that’s going around your office, according to psychologists. 

“Behavioral contagion” is a well-documented phenomenon in psychology. Our brains are hardwired for social interaction and bonding. Mimicking the actions we see in those around us is a natural way that we empathize and gain a sense of how others are feeling.

Here’s a sampling of some of the behaviors that we might “catch” from our friends or coworkers.  

Perhaps the best-known contagious behavior is yawning — even dogs can catch yawns from their owners. Contagious yawning is a sign of empathy and a form of social bonding.


  • Risk-Taking
  • Yawning
  • Smiling
  • Frowning 
  • Workplace Rudeness
  • Shivering



Carolyn Gregoire