Your Friends’ Emotions on Facebook Can Affect Your Mood

[dropcap1]S[/dropcap1]ocial researches and studies on Facebook have always amazed the Facebook addicts. Facebook has become more or less a modern way of psychological assessment tool, where social interactions of individuals can serve as research samples. Among many other options, a common trend is “Facebook Status Update”, where people update status about anything that trigger their minds. These few computer key strokes have the potential to affect our moods either positively or negatively. A recent study conducted by Adam D. I. Kramer and his co-fellows shared same results.

[blockquote align=”left”] Few computer key strokes have the potential to affect our moods either positively or negatively [/blockquote]

The study “Experimental Evidence of Massive-Scale Emotional Contagion through Social Networks” showed very astonishing results about human moods. People alter their emotions and moods based upon other people’s positive and negative moods as expressed on Facebook status updates. The researchers called this effect an “emotional contagion”. Because they claimed to show that our friend’s words (statuses) on our Facebook news feed directly affects our own mood. The results of study indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks.

The study observed 689,003 people’s statuses but as a matter of authentic research and legal grounds, it actually violated the rules and principles of research. The people were not told that Facebook was altering their news feeds for the study. In order to test people’s emotions, Facebook removed a subset of “positive” and “negative” posts from news feeds to see how people responds. They didn’t actually measure a single person’s emotions or mood states, but instead relied on a flawed assessment measure to do so.

[blockquote align=”right”] People alter their emotions and moods based upon other people’s positive and negative moods as expressed on Facebook status updates. The researchers called this effect an “emotional contagion” [/blockquote]

So for the group that saw more positive status updates (Negativity Reduced), there was a 0.07% increase in the users’ own positive statuses. For the group that saw more negative status updates, (Positivity Reduced), there was a 0.01% increase in the users’ own negative statuses. Which sounds small, sure, but in Facebook world, that could still translate to hundreds of thousands of actual users.

When positive expressions were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions.

The research was carried out to improve Facebook services and to make the content people see on Facebook as relevant and engaging as possible and make an understanding about how people respond to different types of content, whether it’s positive or negative in tone, news from friends, or information from pages they follow.

The results of this research are quite interesting but critics are of the view that Facebook has breached the trust of its users by manipulating user’s emotion and conducting a discreet research without inform them first. [blockquote align=”left”]  Despite all controversies, the study is interesting in its own place because of its realistic behavioral assumptions [/blockquote]

But this time Facebook is not entirely wrong, according to the official statement of social researchers team of this study, when the users of Facebook “sign up” for the first time they are asked to agree to the terms and conditions of Facebook data; hence, the Facebook experts are allowed to conduct such studies. This is a very solid point regarding the violation of research tool “consent of people”, making the experiment almost certainly legal. In the company’s current terms of service, Facebook users relinquish the use of their data for “data analysis, testing and research.”

[blockquote align=”right”] The results of study indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks [/blockquote]Despite all controversies, the study is interesting in its own place because of its realistic behavioral assumptionsAs our friends on Facebook always show interest to know why we had updated “feeling happy” or “feeling sad” status; this ultimately affects their own moods and emotions. 

If nothing else, it’s something to keep in mind when making your next status update and also make us aware that the world’s biggest social network can anytime turn to be a laboratory test of our emotions, moods, likeness, unlikeness etc. 

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