Emotional Tweeting: Study Tests Which Are Most Socially Contagious

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Which types of emotional tweets are most contagious?

Tweets containing positive emotions are most likely to spread virally, a new study finds.

Scientists analysed 3,800 randomly chosen Twitter users.

They wrote a program to automatically classify the emotional value of the tweet: positive, negative or neutral.

Then the software tracked how the tweet did, socially, in comparison to the usual sort of tweets that person sent.

The results showed that across all the users, it was positive tweets that were more contagious than negative ones.

Around 20% of people were also highly susceptible to emotional contagion.

After reading more negative tweets, this 20% produced more negative tweets.

Still, it was positive tweets that had the greatest influence.

A study last year found similar results for Facebook:

“Emotions expressed online — both positive and negative — are contagious, concludes a new study from the University of California, San Diego and Yale University (Coviello et al., 2014).

One of the largest ever studies of Facebook examined the emotional content of one billion posts over two years.

Software was used to analyse the emotional content of each post.

[…]

[They found that] positive emotions spread more strongly, with positive messages being more strongly contagious then negative.

They found that each additional positive post led to 1.75 more positive posts by their Facebook friends.

The authors think, though, that even this may be an underestimation of the power of emotional contagion online.

The new study was published in the journal PLOS ONE (Ferrara & Yang et al., 2015).

Tweet image from Shutterstock

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Published: 14 November 2015

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