Bad mood? Post a Facebook rant and your friends are likely to do the Same
Researchers from the University of California studied Facebook posts and found out that one negative update can lead others to posts negative updates too.
Over a billion anonymous status updates from 100 million Facebook users were studied in this research. The posts were dated January 2009 to March 2012 and were filtered by software called Linguistic Inquiry Word Count to assess their emotional content.
The researchers used negative status posts about rain as a basis to test their hypothesis. The researchers then checked the status updates of those who were in areas which were not rainy to see whether they were emotionally affected by the negativity in the original post.
They found out that each negative post would generate 1.29 negative posts from friends. This means that bad mood and negativity are contagious online.
But here’s a piece of good news. Happy status posts were found to be more contagious, generating 1.75 happy posts for every single happy update made.
Lead author and political science professor James Fowler said ‘We have enough power in this data set to show that emotional expressions spread online and also that positive expressions spread more than negative.’
Fowler and his team also believed that the influence is greater than their research could measure: ‘We have a pretty good sense from other studies that people who live near each other have stronger relationships and influence each other even more. If we could measure those relationships, we would probably find even more contagion.’
The researchers concluded that their study proves social media can also manipulate well-being. They said ‘We should be doing everything we can to measure the effects of social networks and to learn how to magnify them so that we can create an epidemic of well-being.’