With our hundreds of Facebook friends, we’re bound to come across an angry status or two each day. Seeing those types of posts on Facebook can actually trigger an emotional response, making you feel angry as well according to a study by researchers at the University of California at San Diego.
The good news is that this infectious nature of Facebook posts goes for happy posts as well. The researchers found that moods on social networks can prompt others to feel similarly, with negative posts precipitating other negative posts and positive posts even more so.
The study involved researchers collecting and analyzing over 1 billion anonymous status updates from more than 100 million Facebook users. They looked at posts from over the course of about three years between January 2009 and March 2012. Their results demonstrated that a negative post brings about 1.29 more negative posts from friends and a positive one causes about 1.75 more positive posts.
Professor of medicine at UC San Diego and lead author for the study James Fowler suggests we use this effect to spread positive feelings:
If an emotional change in one person spreads and causes a change in many, then…We should be doing everything we can to measure the effects of social networks and to learn how to magnify them so that we can create an epidemic of well-being.
While it is no surprise that social media affects our moods, this study does show that moods can travel through groups of people via online social networks. And since moods can be spread online, we may start to see new global emotional patterns with the rise of “clusters of happy and unhappy individuals,” as stated in the study. This research also provides a new possible means for tracking our moods and holds the promise of improving our well-being.