The Psychology of Mimetic Contagion

Aaron Kheriaty

My friend and colleague Dr. Mary Talley Bowden recently posed this important question, which has puzzled many people during the pandemic:

Such a great question. A friend of mine from the age of 5 won’t have anything to do with me now because of my Covid views. I know we’ve all experienced this. @akheriaty can you explain the psychopathology? https://t.co/qdbMT6HOgK

— Mary Talley Bowden MD (@MdBreathe) February 26, 2022

I suggest that two accounts of social psychology—the mass formation theory of Matthias Desmet and the mimetic contagion theory of Rene Girard, help to answer this question. These two theories also go a long way toward explaining some of the more puzzling behaviors we saw emerge during the pandemic.

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