NEW YORK – Facebook posts can have a dramatic effect on your mood – and spread like wildfire through friends, it has been revealed.
Researchers found that seeing positive posts really did boost people’s mood – but that a negative post had the opposite effect.
They say the results even led to users sounding happier or more fed up in their own status updates almost instantly – and seeing fewer emotional posts led to people being less expressive.
Researchers reduced the amount of either positive or negative stories that appeared in the news feed of 689,003 randomly selected Facebook users.
Researchers never saw the content of actual posts, per Facebook’s data use policy; instead, they counted only the occurrence of positive and negative words in more than 3 million posts with a total of 122 million words.
They report that 4 million of those words were ‘positive’ and 1.8 million were ‘negative’.
The new study by social scientists at Cornell, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and Facebook is the first to suggest that emotions expressed via online social networks influence the moods of others.
‘People who had positive content experimentally reduced on their Facebook news feed, for one week, used more negative words in their status updates,’ reports Jeff Hancock, professor of communication at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and co-director of its Social Media Lab.
‘When news feed negativity was reduced, the opposite pattern occurred: Significantly more positive words were used in peoples’ status updates.’