124 Emotion Transfer & Social Networking

Based on research by Kramer, A., et al., 2014. Written by Mara Rowcliffe, B.S..

Does checking your social media affect your mood?

Facebook Researcher Adam Kramer and Cornell University colleagues assessed a phenomenon known as emotional contagion, the transferring of emotions to others. Previous research acknowledges that emotional states can transfer to others through in-person interaction. However, they wanted to determine whether this phenomenon also applies to online social networking.

Routinely, Facebook uses a computer algorithm to determine content, finding the most relevant and engaging posts to send their customers, instead of sending all their friends’ posts. Using the same algorithm for the study, the computer distinguished between positive and negative posts. Thus, Face book automatically altered the amount of emotional content that appeared in over 600,000 individuals’ News Feed but altered no individual personal message sent. Therefore, the scientists did not view any personal information. Results indicated that when positive expressions of emotions were reduced, people produced fewer positive and more negative posts.  When negative expressions were reduced, the participants produced fewer negative and more positive posts.

This study suggests that emotional contagion occurs within social networks. Your and other’s posts on Facebook can influence everyone’s emotions. Generate positive posts. Surround yourself with positive people, in person and online!


Kramer, A. D., Guillory, J. E., & Hancock, J. T. (2014). Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111, 24. 8788–8790.  www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1320040111.

Show More
Back to top button