More People Respond to Positive Emotion Than Negative
By Michael Cole
The old adage that goes, "You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar' has been scientifically proven in a study that looked at how people used Twitter. Results showed that when people shared happy feelings with their social network through the media platform, they were more likely to cause others to share similar positive feelings than negative feelings.
The study was designed to look at the activity of 3,800 randomly selected Twitter users. Observation soon showed that when emotions were shared via Twitter feeds, positive emotions were more likely to spread virally than negative emotions.
Researchers involved in the study noted that what people tweet has a real effect on the emotional behavior on those who read them. This finding shows that when Twitter users send out emotional updates, they aren’t just expressing themselves, but are simultaneously influencing how others feel and behave.
To conduct this research, the scientists developed a computer algorithm that assessed the emotional value of tweets as either positive, negative, or neutral. Next, a comparison was made between the tweet’s emotional value and all the other tweets that had appeared in the user’s Twitter feed an hour before the tweet. The data revealed that if a large number of positive tweets had accumulated in the Twitter user’s feed during the hour previous to them tweeting, their tweet was more likely to be positive also. The same was found to be true with negative tweets.
The emotional contagiousness was found to be most pronounced in about 20 percent of the Twitter population sampled for the study. This 20 percent showed that more than half of their tweets were emotionally affected by tweets that had come through their feed during the hour previous to their tweets. The same group was also four times more likely to be affected by a positive tweet than a negative one.
For the percentage of Twitter users who showed the least amount of susceptibility to emotional contagion, they still showed that they were twice as likely to be affected by positive tweets than negative ones.
Psychologists are viewing this as useful information for the treatment of depression and other mood disorders. This new research supports previous findings that emotions spread through personal interaction, but takes it to a new level by revealing that it works the same way online, too. As technology and psychology develop together, new cures for emotional disabilities may be unlocked in the future.
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