Study: Social networks like Facebook can spread moods

Facebook screen "What people feel and say in one place may spread to many parts of the globe," wrote the authors

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A study by researchers at the University of California, Yale, and Facebook has found that moods can spread virally through social media sites such as Facebook.

Using data from millions of Facebook users, the researchers examined the impact of rainy days.

They found that for every one person directly affected by rain, one to two others would also feel the impact.

The study was published in online scientific journal Plos One.

"What people feel and say in one place may spread to many parts of the globe on the very same day," wrote the report's authors.

They added the data suggests that "online social networks may magnify the intensity of global emotional synchrony".

Positive spreads faster

Researchers have long known that emotions can be spread through people via face-to-face interaction, but the new frontier is to examine whether the effect translates to social media interactions.

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We may see greater spikes in global emotion that could generate increased volatility”

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The researchers - some of whom were Facebook employees at the time the research was carried out - analysed the emotional content of billions of updates posted to Facebook between January 2009 and March 2012.

To test whether emotions spread, they looked at how updates changed when it rained.

They found that negative Facebook posts increased by 1.16% and positive posts decreased by 1.19% in response to gloomy weather.

They then looked at the posts of people who were friends with those impacted by rain, but who lived in cities where the weather was not necessarily as bad.

The result? Every sad post generated an extra 1.29 more negative posts than normal among people's friends.

Surprisingly, every happy post had an even stronger impact: if a user posted an upbeat statement, an extra 1.75 positive posts were generated.

"These results imply that emotions themselves might ripple through social networks to generate large-scale synchrony that gives rise to clusters of happy and unhappy individuals," wrote the authors of the report.

"New technologies online may be increasing this synchrony by giving people more avenues to express themselves to a wider range of social contacts," they said.

"As a result, we may see greater spikes in global emotion that could generate increased volatility in everything from political systems to financial markets."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    I don't use facebook as I have no real practical use for it. But internet community attitudes I find quite fascinating.

    I find it quite funny that a lot of posters accumulate here to basically insult/name-call facebook users just for using it... so basically they are all hypocrites of the hive-like negativity they accuse facebook users of having and spreading. What kind of mood did I just spread?

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    It would be nice if the BBC got back to reporting news, instead of promoting this that and definitely the other.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    I agree! When it's Friday and everyone is talking about the weekend I'm pretty buzzed! Love a good Friday feeling :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    @BBC Rules are meant to be broken Fact of life get used to it Quite frankly I couldn’t care less anymore , quote , "This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules " Typical control freak They have even forgotten the nature of freedom of the press these days No one can say anything anymore That is what then UK was always all about, "Freedom of speech"

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    it's amazing what can be spread on facebook, most of it false, much of it unpleasant
    now I must go & tweet that

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    The same thing happens in herd animals like sheep.

    Am I comparing Facebook users to sheep? Darned right I am!

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    No I’m sorry this is common sense Hamish This is also where you have to adopt a process called learning to agree to disagree If you cant manage that then don’t read it and walk away from it This too is entirely your choice Freedom of choice Your own choosing You are entitled to your opinions as too is anyone else You also have to live with those decisions, repercussions, consequences

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    Who allowed these researchers access to this information? Not that i'm stupid enough to believe that the privacy settings are anything more than cosmetic. I think it is a bit rude to publish stats that have come from data mining where the data is believed by the publisher to be private. At least lie to us subtly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    I am worried by the amount of people who want to live there life in the public eye. I can think of 3 or 4 people who are my 'Facebook friends' instantly.

    It is not only Facebook, its also YouTube, with people proposing in front of masses of people while being filmed (only the rejections seem to go 'viral')

  • Comment number 113.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    6 Minutes ago
    104. MarkH2012

    Have actually read the nonsense you have written? It makes no sense, I question your intelligance (sic).

    Have you read yours? What does your first sentence mean? It makes no sense to criticise others about something and then do the same yourself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    Social networks like Facebook on The BBC HYS, can spread moods.

    Like apathy, boredom and total indifference.......

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    104. MarkH2012

    Have actually read the nonsense you have written? It makes no sense, I question your intelligance (sic).

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    This is similar to an email i had the other day re an optical pick up assy Quote , "Our products are never supplied faulty", I don’t care how good you are how brilliant you are, how marvelous you think you are Everyone makes mistakes even top notch manufacturers thus all programmers are not error free hence all manufactured parts are not neither is face book or the BBC

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    So this is why we are not allowed to use common sense anymore, we have to find a way to pay the researchers.

    TV soaps and news media have been doing this mood spread for ages. When we see a crime related story we go on higher alert for a while, when we see instance of violence/abuse we start projecting that onto every couple who seem upset, same with child neglect. Then there feel good news etc

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    I wonder if my ennui with social media is also contagious?

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.



    Social networks, like groups of MONKEYS, can spread MOODS

    Apparantly SURPRISE SURPRISE, advanced monkeys, like groups of humans, can also spread moods, when communicating in person, by text, by phone, or even MORE surprise surprise, by FaceBook.


    has found night follows day

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    Totally agree with this since 2007 the pace of discrimination against people in the North has increased apace.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    You have really got question peoples intelligance sometimes Im not perfect myself and i dont try to pretend i am but this is another problem associated with IT technology I call it , "the control freak syndrome" , For some unknown reason its all logic everything is just so and its a " Perfect day ", Lou Reed Of course there is no such thing ,never will be The nature of human's is illogical

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    I wish the BBC would not put articles on the HYS page, when they cannot have their say.

    Why don't you put all the stories where you can make a comment, ON THE SAME PAGE.

    It's not rocket science, as always there is probably an agenda somewhere.

    I am sick of the BBC promoting social media, one would think they have a vested interest in Facebook, Twitter and green energy.


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