We all do it. We post, like, share and visit Facebook. And so, we are all exposed. That is, according to a recent study that measured the impact of the posts we read on our mood.
The Facebook experiment took place for one week in January, 2012, and manipulated the news feed of 689,000 people. The study probed the question: After being exposed to emotional content that is either positive or negative, would people post similar content?
Essentially, can reading positive posts make you more positive, and conversely, can reading negative posts make you more negative?
Separating the field into two groups, one group received an increase in positive posts in their news feed, while the other group received an increase in negative posts. What characterized a post as positive or negative was the result of the Linguistic Inquiry and Wordcount software (LIWC), which analyzed over 3 million posts, and 122 million words to classify 4 million as positive (3.6%) and 1.8 million as negative (1.6%).
Important to note is that the experimental group did not differ significantly in their posts — and thus mood — previous to the one week period.
Yet after being exposed to either more positive or more negative posts, they certainly did. In the words of the researchers,
“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 online social networks.”
So are we catching the moods of our Facebook friends? We are, and we might not even be aware of it.
Because the truth is, most people don’t stop to consider the effect many environmental conditions have on their mood. This holds true for friends, jobs, situations, daily habits, and yes, Facebook posts.
After all, when was the last time you thought about whether your Facebook friends are boosting or dragging down your mood?
Well, apparently, it’s a question we should all ask ourselves. Because, lets face it, getting through life — especially when it throws you curveballs — is hard enough. Even harder is trying to use those curveballs to master your skills.
Kramer, A, Guillory, J., Hancock, J., (2012). Experimental evidence of massive scale emotional contagion through social networks. Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences. vol. 111 no. 24, 8788–8790, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1320040111
Claire Dorotik-Nana LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in post-traumatic growth, leveraging adversity, and other epic human achievements. Claire has written several continuing education courses for International Sports Science Association, Zur Institute, and Personal Trainer Central on topics such as client centered therapy, motivation, coaching, substance abuse and prevention, child obesity and post traumatic growth. Claire's three books include ON THE BACK OF A HORSE: Harnessing The Healing Power of The Human-Equine Bond; ALL KIDS ARE BORN THIN: A Parent's Guide To Understanding and Preventing Childhood Obesity, and NO SECRET SO CLOSE, all of which are available at Amazon. For more information about Leveraging Adversity or Claire, visit www.leverageadversity.net, or visit her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/leverageadversityLike this author?