I’m the type of person who can easily take on the moods of my friends. Call it empathetic. Or, call it stupid. Call it whatever you like and then call me and tell me about it. Anyway, as it turns out, many of us are that way when it comes to social media. None of you will admit it, but it’s true. A very intellectual study tells us so.
New research from the University of California, San Diego, has found that feelings shared on Facebook – feelings from negative or positive posts or status updates – are contagious among online friends.
Using data from more than one billion anonymous status updates among more than 100 million Facebook users in the 100 most populous cities in the United States, the study found that positive posts beget positive posts, while negative posts beget negative ones.
The study, titled “Detecting Emotional Contagion in Massive Social Networks,” was led by UC San Diego professor of political science James Fowler and UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering PhD student Lorenzo Coviello, among several co-authors. I told you it was very intellectual.
“Our study suggests that people are not just choosing other people like themselves to associate with but actually causing their friends’ emotional expressions to change,” says lead author James Fowler, according to the March 12, 2014 news release, “Facebook feelings are contagious.” Fowler is a professor of political science in the Division of Social Sciences and of medical genetics in the School of Medicine at the University of California – San Diego. “We have enough power in this data set to show that emotional expressions spread online and also that positive expressions spread more than negative.”
Although the data would appear to suggest happiness is more contagious than sadness — anger is a whole different story.
Last year, I wrote about a study by researchers at Beihang University, titled “Anger is More Influential Than Joy: Sentiment Correlation on Weibo.” The research team categorized around 70 million posts from 200,000 users on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform, according to sentiment, including anger, joy, sadness and disgust. Their analysis showed that Weibo users who post angry sentiments are more likely to be connected to other Weibo users who post angry sentiments — making anger an “assortative” factor in the organization of online networks. The researchers also found that angry Weibo users are more likely to propagate angry sentiments via their networks. — The Social Graf, MediaPost
All those angry Twitter-like users — who knew? Should we call them angry birds?
Anyway, be careful whose posts you’re reading. You could end up taking on all of the energy of that “angry guy” who you and all of your friends try to avoid. GODDAMMIT!
IMAGE CREDIT: foodsecurity.org