Facebook – Are Online Emotions Really Contagious?


Recent tests have led researchers to believe that our Facebook posts and daily mood are influenced by the stories we read on our news feed. The data collected suggests that people who are exposed to more positive stories are more likely to use more positive words in their own posts, whereas exposure to negative threads are more likely to influence negative behaviour in viewer statuses.

True, false or outright madness? You can only make your decision from reading on.

Approximately 3million posts by 689,003 randomly selected Facebook users were examined, altering the Facebook algorithm to force positive posts to the timelines of some users and negative posts to the timelines of others, exposing these individuals to each extreme in order to monitor their online emotional response.

Privacy reasons meant that the software tool used in the research could only count the number of positive and negative words within a post rather than being able to physically read what a person has posted. Past research also provided evidence to suggest that more positive statuses are likely to be shared across the internet much faster than negative ones, being discovered after users achieved high levels of engagement with positive posts made on rainy days than negative ones.

According to these statistics, online emotions are contagious, however do you really believe it? Imagine if you could post a status that would influence the mood of everyone exposed to it that day. It seems farfetched to believe that one negative post will bring your entire day down just by using negative wording, however researchers insist the data provided is authentic.

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