Research says emotions spread through Facebook

Posted on March 18, 2014

 

A study conducted by the Universities of California and Yale, along with Facebook, has revealed that emotions can be spread across social media sites.

It is well-known that emotions are exchanged during face-to-face interactions, but now researchers have decided to tackle questions into whether a similar effect can be translated through interaction on social networks.

The study, which has been published in Plos One, an online scientific journal, investigated the impact of rainy days using Facebook data collected from millions of the social networking giant’s 1.2 billion-strong user base.

The study’s authors have said that the emotions people are feeling in one part of the world can spread to other parts of the globe on the same day. They go on to suggest that social sites can increase the intensity of what they called “global emotional synchrony”.

The research, carried out between January 2009 and March 2012, analysed the emotional content of posts on social networking newsfeeds. Once the data was collected, it was tested through looking at how trends in updates changed when it rained. It was discovered that the number of negative posts increased by 1.16% during periods of bad weather, whilst positive updates decreased by 1.19%.

This had a knock-on effect on friends who see these comments. This was then examined, with the result exhibiting an extra 1.29 more negative posts than normal amongst friends. This could be a continuous cycle that reflects people’s emotions on the other side of the world. Researchers concluded that emotions may in fact circulate through social media on a global scale.

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