Emotional Contagion and the Power of Belief: Why it Matters to Global Health

Belief is a powerful emotion and falls out of the realm of fact-checking. It also has a contagious effect on its followers, particularly when they are gathering together – on or off-line.   New digital technologies and their algorithms can fuel social media swarms and emotional contagion at unprecedented speed and scope reaching even the most remote corners of the world. Rumors, anxieties and fears can spread like wildfires, clustering around shared sentiments and beliefs  – making them look even more ubiquitous than they really are, and sometimes triggering behaviors that most individuals would not have dared on their own. This talk, given by Professor Heidi J. Larson, looks at the impact of this phenomenon on global health.

This event took place on Oct. 26, 2022 as part of the Speaker Series on Misinformation, co-sponsored by the Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School and the NULab at Northeastern University.
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