Emotions can spread among inter connected users of online social networks: Study Report


June 16, 2014: In a recent study done by Social Scientists at Cornell University, The University of California, San Francisco it was reported that emotions can spread among inter connected users of online social networks. The study which was done among 689.003 randomly selected Facebook users found that both positive and negative stories have an impact on human emotions. The researchers termed this phenomenon as “emotional contagion” effect.

The experiment which was first of its kind was done by studying the occurrence of words both positive and negative in more than 3 million posts. Nearly 122 million words were observed and out of this it was found that 4 million words were positive and 1.8 million were negative. The report of this study was contrary to the findings of the studies done earlier in this area which suggested that viewing positive posts by friends on Facebook may affect their friends negatively.

Prof. Jeff Hancock, Professor at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and who is the co-Director of its Social Media Lab said that during the study, it was found that, “People who had positive content experimentally reduced on their Facebook news feed, for one week, used more negative words in their status updates.” He further added that, “When news feed negativity was reduced, the opposite pattern occurred: Significantly more positive words were used in peoples’ status updates.”

The research establishes the fact that people were more emotionally positive in response to positive emotion updates from their friends and vice versa.


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