Why do pupils get the giggles? Emotional Contagion Explored by BrainCanDo

Posted: 21st June 2016 by braincando

On Monday 20 June, BrainCanDo appeared in The Times as the programme embarks on a three-year experiment, along with researchers from the University of Reading as well as pupils from Queen Anne’s School and Westminster City School, into social and emotional contagion.

The experiment comes as teachers have long been confused as to why some classes experience disruption including moments of laughter and other classes are the ideal class. The research, led by academics at the University of Reading is as a result of the thought that teenagers are more susceptible to their peers emotions.

Queen Anne’s School is very much at the forefront via the BrainCanDo programme and its founder, Mrs Julia Harrington, Headmistress at the school. Mrs Harrington said of the research:

“We want to learn how the brain works in adolescents. Some areas of the brain keep track of other people and their emotions and thoughts…So it will be interesting to know how we motivate teenagers’ brains in a social group.”

Pupils will undergo brain scans, be observed in the classroom and interviewed as part of the project with this only being possible via BrainCanDo’s connection with the University of Reading. Data will be collected over the three year period covering certain points when it is believed their brains are most effected by emotional contagion. Mrs Harrington added that the influences and dynamics of a friendship group were hugely fascinating and it was not always the perceived “stronger” characters that caused emotional contagion.

“It could be the person who is sitting there quietly but somehow influencing the group.”

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