Emotions have a collective and not just an individual origin. How you feel depends on how those to whom you are closely and distantly connected feel.
Emotional contagion can even take place between strangers, after just ephemeral contact.
When waiters are trained to provide “service with smile”, their customers report feeling more satisfied, and they leave better tips.
Given the organization of early hominids, into social groups. the spread of emotions served as an evolutionary adaptive purpose.
Early humans had to rely on one another for survival.
The ability to read the emotions of others helped coordinate group activity by three means:
- facilitating personal bonds
- synchronizing behavior
- communicating information
[…]If you are trying to coordinate a hunting party, it helps if members of the group are all upbeat and fired up.
Conversely, if you are part of a group and someone in it appears afraid, perhaps that person has seen a predator that you have not seen.
Quickly adopting his emotional state can enhance your prospects for survival.
Emotions may be a quicker way to convey information about the environment and its relative safety or danger than other forms of communication.
The affective afference or the facial feedback theory:
…the path of the signals is from the muscles (of the face) to the brain, rather than more usual, efferent pathway from the brain to the muscles…
… The telephone operators are trained to smile when they work, even though the person at the other end of the line cannot see them.
This theory also explains why it helps to smile when your heart is breaking.