Are emotional Facebook posts contagious?!

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Jackie Cameron

Facebook recently teamed up with Cornell University and the University of California to embark in a social science experiment on mood manipulation. A total 689,003 Facebook users unknowingly had positive, negative or a random posts eliminated from their News Feeds. To measure the effect on user’s moods, their subsequent status updates were coded. The study found that the reduction in positive content increased negative words in status updates and reduction in negative content increased positive words in status updates. (Original research paper here)

The conclusion – virtual emotion devoid of direct interaction and nonverbal cues is contagious. And it can spread through networks like a virus.

But let’s break down the actual numbers here.* In the “positively reduced” group, the percent of positive words decreased from approx. 5.26% to 5.16% and the percent of negative words increased from approx. 1.73% to 1.77%. Conversely, the “negatively reduced” group…

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