A man poses for photographs in front of the Facebook sign on the Facebook campus in Menlo Park, Calif. Jeff Chiu/AP
For one week back in 2012, Facebook scientists altered what appeared on the News Feed of more than 600,000 users. One group got mostly positive items; the other got mostly negative items.
Scientists then monitored the posts of those people and found that they were more negative if they received the negative News Feed and more positive if they received positive items.
As the New Scientist reports, the research means “emotional contagion” can happen online, not just face to face. The magazine adds:
“The effect was significant, though modest.
“Ke Xu of Beihang University in Beijing has studied emotional contagion on Chinese social networks. He says [Facebook’s Adam] Kramer’s work shows that we don’t need to interact in person to influence someone’s feelings.”
The findings are published in the current edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.