It’s no secret that human emotions are contagious. Hang around people with pissy attitudes and, more likely than not, you’ll have a pissy attitude. Hang around people who give off an pleasant aura and, more likely than not, you too will give off a pleasant aura. There are exceptions to every rule, of course, as the world is chock full of c*nts and as$holes who’d be miserable under any circumstance. But I digress.
So I suppose it should come as no surprise at all that that sort of real world, social circle conventional wisdom also applies to the social circles we run in on the web. If the people we’re friends with and follow via social media exhibit emotion, we tend to mirror those emotions.
Reports the Mercury News:
Facebook data scientist Adam D.I. Kramer analyzed postings by about 1 million English speakers and their roughly 150 million friends in multiple countries on the social network to show that the words people use in their status updates drive the emotions of their online friends, even days later. Kramer found people who used emotionally loaded words like “happy,” “hug,” “sick,” and “vile” in their status updates sparked similar emotions in later Facebook postings by their friends.
“Up to three days later, for people who use more negative words, their friends will also use more negative words,” Kramer said. “If people are using more positive words, not only are their friends using more positive words, their friends also will use fewer negative words.”
Psychologists still don’t know, Kramer said, whether a person who feels sad upon hearing their friend Joe say his dog has died feels sad for Joe, sad for the dog, or is just mirroring Joe’s feelings. But Kramer said emotion transmitted through status updates could not be mirroring, because that requires one-to-one communication.
The study found that for every negative word such as “sick,” “petty” or “lame” Facebook members used in a status update, their friends used 28 percent more negative words on the following day than would be expected, based on their pattern of speech at other times.
Two things here: “Facebook data scientist” is like a real job now? Wow. That’s cool, I guess. And secondly, reading this made me want to listen to a song that puts me in a good mood. You know what song ALWAYS puts me in a good mood? “Mint Car” by The Cure, a group whose music usually depresses the ever-living sh*t out of me. This song even makes birds happy!
(via Pat’s Papers)