Select Date Range B.
Emotional contagion is well established in laboratory experiments 1in which people transfer positive and negative moods and emotions to others. Similarly, data from a large, real-world social network collected over a y period suggests that longer-lasting moods e.
An experimental approach can address this scrutiny directly; however, methods used in controlled experiments have been criticized for examining emotions after social interactions. Interacting with a happy person is pleasant and an unhappy person, unpleasant.
Prior studies have also failed to address whether nonverbal cues are necessary for contagion to occur, or if verbal cues alone suffice. Evidence that positive and negative moods are correlated in networks 23 suggests that this is possible, but the causal question of whether contagion processes occur for emotions in massive social networks remains elusive in the absence of experimental evidence.
Three studies have laid the groundwork for testing these processes via Facebook, the largest online social network. To date, however, there is no experimental evidence that emotions or moods are contagious in the absence of direct interaction between experiencer and target. News Feed is the primary manner by which people see content that friends share.
Which content is shown or omitted in the News Feed is determined via a ranking algorithm that Facebook continually develops and tests in the interest of showing viewers the content they will find most relevant and engaging.
One such test is reported in this study: A test of whether posts with emotional content are more engaging. This tested whether exposure to emotions led people to change their own posting behaviors, in particular whether exposure to emotional content led people to post content that was consistent with the exposure—thereby testing whether exposure to verbal affective expressions leads to similar verbal expressions, a form of emotional contagion.
People who viewed Facebook in English were qualified for selection into the experiment. Two parallel experiments were conducted for positive and negative emotion: Further, the omitted content may have appeared on prior or subsequent views of the News Feed.
Finally, the experiment did not affect any direct messages sent from one user to another. Posts were determined to be positive or negative if they contained at least one positive or negative word, as defined by Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count software LIWC 9 word counting system, which correlates with self-reported and physiological measures of well-being, and has been used in prior research on emotional expression 78 Both experiments had a control condition, in which a similar proportion of posts in their News Feed were omitted entirely at random i.
Separate control conditions were necessary as The experiments took place for 1 wk January 11—18, In total, over 3 million posts were analyzed, containing over million words, 4 million of which were positive 3.
If affective states are contagious via verbal expressions on Facebook our operationalization of emotional contagionpeople in the positivity-reduced condition should be less positive compared with their control, and people in the negativity-reduced condition should be less negative.
As a secondary measure, we tested for cross-emotional contagion in which the opposite emotion should be inversely affected: People in the positivity-reduced condition should express increased negativity, whereas people in the negativity-reduced condition should express increased positivity.
Emotional expression was modeled, on a per-person basis, as the percentage of words produced by that person during the experimental period that were either positive or negative.
Positivity and negativity were evaluated separately given evidence that they are not simply opposite ends of the same spectrum 8 We examined these data by comparing each emotion condition to its control.
This effect occurred both when negative words were omitted As such, direct examination of the frequency of positive and negative words would be inappropriate: It would be confounded with the change in overall words produced. To test our hypothesis regarding emotional contagion, we conducted weighted linear regressions, predicting the percentage of words that were positive or negative from a dummy code for condition experimental versus controlweighted by the likelihood of that person having an emotional post omitted from their News Feed on a given viewing, such that people who had more content omitted were given higher weight in the regression.
The results show emotional contagion. When negativity was reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. These results suggest that the emotions expressed by friends, via online social networks, influence our own moods, constituting, to our knowledge, the first experimental evidence for massive-scale emotional contagion via social networks 378and providing support for previously contested claims that emotions spread via contagion through a network.When you are on the computer, does it seem to do things that aren’t “normal” or does it work fine one day and then won’t work at all the next day?
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