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An experimental approach can address this scrutiny directly; however, methods used in controlled experiments have been criticized for examining emotions after social interactions. Interacting with a happy person is pleasant and an unhappy person, unpleasant.

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Prior studies have also failed to address whether nonverbal cues are necessary for contagion to occur, or if verbal cues alone suffice. Evidence that positive and negative moods are correlated in networks 2 , 3 suggests that this is possible, but the causal question of whether contagion processes occur for emotions in massive social networks remains elusive in the absence of experimental evidence. Three studies have laid the groundwork for testing these processes via Facebook, the largest online social network.

To date, however, there is no experimental evidence that emotions or moods are contagious in the absence of direct interaction between experiencer and target. News Feed is the primary manner by which people see content that friends share. Which content is shown or omitted in the News Feed is determined via a ranking algorithm that Facebook continually develops and tests in the interest of showing viewers the content they will find most relevant and engaging. One such test is reported in this study: A test of whether posts with emotional content are more engaging. This tested whether exposure to emotions led people to change their own posting behaviors, in particular whether exposure to emotional content led people to post content that was consistent with the exposure—thereby testing whether exposure to verbal affective expressions leads to similar verbal expressions, a form of emotional contagion.


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People who viewed Facebook in English were qualified for selection into the experiment. Further, the omitted content may have appeared on prior or subsequent views of the News Feed. Finally, the experiment did not affect any direct messages sent from one user to another. Posts were determined to be positive or negative if they contained at least one positive or negative word, as defined by Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count software LIWC 9 word counting system, which correlates with self-reported and physiological measures of well-being, and has been used in prior research on emotional expression 7 , 8 , Both experiments had a control condition, in which a similar proportion of posts in their News Feed were omitted entirely at random i.

Separate control conditions were necessary as The experiments took place for 1 wk January 11—18, In total, over 3 million posts were analyzed, containing over million words, 4 million of which were positive 3. If affective states are contagious via verbal expressions on Facebook our operationalization of emotional contagion , people in the positivity-reduced condition should be less positive compared with their control, and people in the negativity-reduced condition should be less negative.

As a secondary measure, we tested for cross-emotional contagion in which the opposite emotion should be inversely affected: People in the positivity-reduced condition should express increased negativity, whereas people in the negativity-reduced condition should express increased positivity. Emotional expression was modeled, on a per-person basis, as the percentage of words produced by that person during the experimental period that were either positive or negative.


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Positivity and negativity were evaluated separately given evidence that they are not simply opposite ends of the same spectrum 8 , We examined these data by comparing each emotion condition to its control. This effect occurred both when negative words were omitted As such, direct examination of the frequency of positive and negative words would be inappropriate: It would be confounded with the change in overall words produced.

To test our hypothesis regarding emotional contagion, we conducted weighted linear regressions, predicting the percentage of words that were positive or negative from a dummy code for condition experimental versus control , weighted by the likelihood of that person having an emotional post omitted from their News Feed on a given viewing, such that people who had more content omitted were given higher weight in the regression. The results show emotional contagion.

As Fig. When negativity was reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. These results suggest that the emotions expressed by friends, via online social networks, influence our own moods, constituting, to our knowledge, the first experimental evidence for massive-scale emotional contagion via social networks 3 , 7 , 8 , and providing support for previously contested claims that emotions spread via contagion through a network.

Mean number of positive Upper and negative Lower emotion words percent generated people, by condition. Bars represent standard errors. These results highlight several features of emotional contagion. Second, although nonverbal behavior is well established as one medium for contagion, these data suggest that contagion does not require nonverbal behavior 7 , 8 : Textual content alone appears to be a sufficient channel.

This is not a simple case of mimicry, either; the cross-emotional encouragement effect e. Further, we note the similarity of effect sizes when positivity and negativity were reduced. We also observed a withdrawal effect: People who were exposed to fewer emotional posts of either valence in their News Feed were less expressive overall on the following days, addressing the question about how emotional expression affects social engagement online.

There are studies that show this, thousands and thousands of studies that document the many unsavory aspects of most people. If the guards at Abu Ghraib were just following orders, then anyone was capable of torture. Who do you listen to? The question, he conceded, applies as much to the study of Milgram today as it does to what went on in his lab. What he provided instead was a difficult and deeply uncomfortable set of questions—and his research, flawed as it is, endures not because it clarifies the causes of human atrocities, but because it confuses more than it answers.


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People have tried to knock it down, and it always comes up standing. We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters theatlantic. Skip to content. They may also contravene accepted social norms and be motivated by a need for immediate gratification, regardless of its consequences.

However, psychoticism also has more positive associations. Eysenck suggested that psychoticism was influenced by biological factors, and was correlated with levels of hormones such as testosterone. As a result, the theory suggests that individuals may be more prone to criminal behavior as they seek to fulfill their own interests whilst violating the rules of behavior accepted by others. A variety of instruments are available to measure individual dimensions of the PEN model of personality. Which Archetype Are You? Discover which Jungian Archetype your personality matches with this archetype test.

Are You Angry? Take our 5-minute anger test to find out if you're angry! Windows to the Soul What can a person's eyes tell you about what they are thinking? Are You Stressed? Measure your stress levels with this 5-minute stress test. Memory Like A Goldfish? Take Psychologist World's 5-minute memory test to measure your memory.

Slave To Your Role? To what extent are people controlled by their roles in society? Are You Fixated? Discover your Freudian personality type with our Fixation Test. Interpret Your Dreams Learn to interpret the hidden meanings behind the themes of your dreams and nightmares.

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