New Delhi: When things just do not go your way, do you often turn to Facebook to find emotional support from friends? Keep doing this as this so-called “emotional contagion” effect works both ways.
Emotions expressed via online social networks influence the moods of others, researchers said, adding that emotions can spread among users of online social networks.
They 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.
“When news feed negativity was reduced, the opposite pattern occurred: Significantly more positive words were used in peoples' status updates,” said Jeff Hancock, a professor of communication at Cornell University's college of agriculture and life sciences.
The researchers looked at the news feed of 6,89,003 randomly selected Facebook users.
They wondered if online exposure to mood-laden text could change moods.
They also wondered whether exposure to the happiness of others may actually be depressing, producing a social comparison effect.
As they filtered news feeds, they found that peoples' emotional expressions on Facebook predicted their friends' emotional expressions, even days later.
“We also observed a withdrawal effect - people who were exposed to fewer emotional posts in their news feed were less expressive overall on the following days,” Hancock wrote.
Online messages influence our experience of emotions, which may affect a variety of offline behaviours,” Hancock noted.
The paper was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.