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Although we seem to worry the most about catching the flu, perhaps we should be equally worried about “catching” poor habits from other people.

Research on the phenomenon of social contagion has shown that if we witness someone else giving in to temptation, it activates our desire to indulge, as well.

For example, when we watch friends and family members splurge on gifts, vacations, or new vehicles, this may activate our desire to spend, even if we have set a goal to save more money.

The good thing about goal contagion is that if we are aware of it, we can take steps to circumvent it. We can try to spend as much time as possible with people who are demonstrating healthy behaviors, and we can limit the time we spend in risky or vulnerable situations with the people who are deficient in self-control.

Which poor habits have you “caught” from other people in the past?

For thoughts about the positive side of goal contagion, check out heidibeckman.com.