If we want to prevent unkindness from spreading in groups, firms, and political parties, we need to know why it spreads. Are badly treated people getting angry and then act unkind toward anyone coming their way? Then, an emotional regulation technique, like anger management, might be the right remedy. On the other hand, people may just try to imitate what appears to be a socially acceptable behavior. Then, jointly establishing what is acceptable may be the way forward.
In an experimental study, Wendelin Schnedler finds that „chains of unkindness“ in the laboratory seem to be driven by imitation. Subjects who are assigned a frustrating job get angry but do not donate less money to an uninvolved third person. If anything, they donate more.
Details on the study can be found here.