From the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

pnas-fb-social-manipulation-research

*Download the Research Report: “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks” (PDF) Below

MASSIVE SCALE EMOTIONAL MANIPULATION SIGNIFICANCE

We show, via a massive (N = 689,003) experiment on Facebook, that emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. We provide experimental evidence that emotional contagion occurs without direct interaction between people (exposure to a friend expressing an emotion is sufficient), and in the complete absence of nonverbal cues.

ABSTRACT

Emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. Emotional contagion is well established in laboratory experiments, with people transferring positive and negative emotions to others. Data from a large real-world social network, collected over a 20-y period suggests that longer-lasting moods (e.g., depression, happiness) can be transferred through networks [Fowler JH, Christakis NA (2008) BMJ 337:a2338], although the results are controversial. In an experiment with people who use Facebook, we test whether emotional contagion occurs outside of in-person interaction between individuals by reducing the amount of emotional content in the News Feed. 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, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks. This work also suggests that, in contrast to prevailing assumptions, in-person interaction and nonverbal cues are not strictly necessary for emotional contagion, and that the observation of others’ positive experiences constitutes a positive experience for people.

Emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading them to experience the same emotions as those around them. Emotional contagion is well established in laboratory experiments (1), in which people transfer positive and negative moods and emotions to others. Similarly, data from a large, real-world social network collected over a 20-y period suggests that longer-lasting moods (e.g., depression, happiness) can be transferred through networks as well (2, 3).

The interpretation of this network effect as contagion of mood has come under scrutiny due to the study’s correlational nature, including concerns over misspecification of contextual variables or failure to account for shared experiences (4, 5), raising important questions regarding contagion processes in networks. An experimental approach can address this scrutiny directly; however, methods used in controlled experiments have been criticized for examining emotions after social interactions. Interacting with a happy person is pleasant (and an unhappy person, unpleasant). As such, contagion may result from experiencing an interaction rather than exposure to a partner’s emotion. Prior studies have also failed to address whether nonverbal cues are necessary for contagion to occur, or if verbal cues alone suffice. Evidence that positive and negative moods are correlated in networks (2, 3) suggests that this is possible, but the causal question of whether contagion processes occur for emotions in massive social networks remains elusive in the absence of experimental evidence. Further, others have suggested that in online social networks, exposure to the happiness of others may actually be depressing to us, producing an “alone together” social comparison effect (6).

Three studies have laid the groundwork for testing these processes via Facebook, the largest online social network. This research demonstrated that (i) emotional contagion occurs via text-based computer-mediated communication (7); (ii) contagion of psychological and physiological qualities has been suggested based on correlational data for social networks generally (7, 8); and (iii) people’s emotional expressions on Facebook predict friends’ emotional expressions, even days later (7) (although some shared experiences may in fact last several days). To date, however, there is no experimental evidence that emotions or moods are contagious in the absence of direct interaction between experiencer and target.

TEST SUBJECTS : OVER A HALF A MILLION (689,003)

OVER A HALF A MILLION (689,003) people were exposed to emotional expressions in their News Feed. This tested whether exposure to emotions led people to change their own posting behaviors, in particular whether exposure to emotional content led people to post content that was consistent with the exposure—thereby testing whether exposure to verbal affective expressions leads to similar verbal expressions, a form of emotional contagion. People who viewed Facebook in English were qualified for selection into the experiment. Two parallel experiments were conducted for positive and negative emotion: One in which exposure to friends’ positive emotional content in their News Feed was reduced, and one in which exposure to negative emotional content in their News Feed was reduced. In these conditions, when a person loaded their News Feed, posts that contained emotional content of the relevant emotional valence, each emotional post had between a 10% and 90% chance (based on their User ID) of being omitted from their News Feed for that specific viewing. It is important to note that this content was always available by viewing a friend’s content directly by going to that friend’s “wall” or “timeline,” rather than via the News Feed. Further, the omitted content may have appeared on prior or subsequent views of the News Feed. Finally, the experiment did not affect any direct messages sent from one user to another.

FACEBOOK EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS

The results show emotional contagion. As Fig. 1 illustrates, for people who had positive content reduced in their News Feed, a larger percentage of words in people’s status updates were negative and a smaller percentage were positive. When negativity was reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. These results suggest that the emotions expressed by friends, via online social networks, influence our own moods, constituting, to our knowledge, the first experimental evidence for massive-scale emotional contagion via social networks (3, 7, 8), and providing support for previously contested claims that emotions spread via contagion through a network.

These results highlight several features of emotional contagion

  • First, because News Feed content is not “directed” toward anyone, contagion could not be just the result of some specific interaction with a happy or sad partner. Although prior research examined whether an emotion can be contracted via a direct interaction (1, 7), we show that simply failing to “overhear” a friend’s emotional expression via Facebook is enough to buffer one from its effects.
  • Second, although nonverbal behavior is well established as one medium for contagion, these data suggest that contagion does not require nonverbal behavior (7, 8): Textual content alone appears to be a sufficient channel. This is not a simple case of mimicry, either; the cross-emotional encouragement effect (e.g., reducing negative posts led to an increase in positive posts) cannot be explained by mimicry alone, although mimicry may well have been part of the emotion-consistent effect.
  • Further, we note the similarity of effect sizes when positivity and negativity were reduced. This absence of negativity bias suggests that our results cannot be attributed solely to the content of the post: If a person is sharing good news or bad news (thus explaining his/her emotional state), friends’ response to the news (independent of the sharer’s emotional state) should be stronger when bad news is shown rather than good (or as commonly noted, “if it bleeds, it leads;” ref. 12) if the results were being driven by reactions to news. In contrast, a response to a friend’s emotion expression (rather than news) should be proportional to exposure. A post hoc test comparing effect sizes (comparing correlation coefficients using Fisher’s method) showed no difference despite our large sample size (z = −0.36, P = 0.72).
pdf-download-button

 

Original Article Source: http://www.pnas.org/content/111/24/8788.full

 

Popular Twitter Education Hashtags (INFOGRAPHIC) from edudemic:

popular-educational-twitter-hashtags-760

Click for full-size image:
internet-minute

The ubiquity of social media and the ever increasing amount of time spent on social media is shown in this excellent infographic from Socially Aware.

I DEFINITELY find myself spending more time on social media as a way to connect, communicate, and participate. How about you?

Click to enlarge

Growing Impact of Social Media INFOGRAPHIC

 

iPredator Inc. Announces Internet Safety for Parents Comes to New York

iPredator Inc. Announces: Internet Safety for Parents Comes to New York. iPredator Inc. proudly announces Internet safety, cyber bullying prevention and cyber attack risk reduction tips will be offered to parents, educators and the community as students …Read More About iPredator’s New York program

 

What is an iPredator?

iPredator: A child, adult or group who, directly or indirectly, engages in exploitation, victimization, stalking, theft or disparagement of others using Information and Communications Technology (ICT.) iPredators are driven by deviant fantasies, desires for power and control, retribution, religious fanaticism, political reprisal, psychiatric illness, perceptual distortions, peer acceptance or personal and financial gain. iPredators can be any age, either gender and not bound by economic status, race or national heritage. iPredator is a global term used to distinguish anyone who engages in criminal, deviant or abusive behaviors using Information and Communications Technology (ICT.) Whether the offender is a cyber bully, cyber stalker, cyber harasser, cyber criminal, online sexual predator, internet troll or cyber terrorist, they fall within the scope of iPredator.

According to iPredator Inc.’s founder, Dr. Michael Nuccitelli, “Although I view digital technology and mobile device technology as highly beneficial tools helpful to society, I do recognize tools have many different purposes. When chosen for nefarious reasons, Information and Communications Technology are tools that become weapons.”

About iPredator Inc.

iPredator Inc.: iPredator Inc. was founded in 2012 to provide education, investigation and consultation to consumers and organizations on cyber bullying, cyber harassment, cyber stalking, online sexual predation, cybercrime, cyber terrorism, internet safety and digital reputation. Created by a New York State licensed psychologist and certified forensic consultant, Dr. Michael Nuccitelli, iPredator Inc.’s goal is to reduce victimization, theft and disparagement from online assailants. In addition to assisting citizens, iPredator Inc.’s mission is to initiate a nationally sustained Internet safety educational & awareness campaign. In December 2011, the American College of Forensic Examiners International published his theory in their quarterly forensics journal, The Forensic Examiner. In June 2012, Dr. Nuccitelli & iPredator Inc. launched their Internet Safety Education & Investigation website, http://www.iPredatorInc.com, offering site visitors an enormous amount of free information. Dr. Nuccitelli has extensive media experience and truly enjoys educating the public on iPredator Awareness, Internet Safety, Internet Culture, Forensic Psychology & local/national criminal news.

Channels

FREE, eBook: Back to School Internet Safety Packet for Parents 2012-2013

 

Important Disclaimer: This is NOT a paid advertisement.  I came across iPredator and think Dr. Nuccitelli has a comprehensive program grounded in an extensive foundation and provides valuable products and services…when you need it most.

I’ve enjoyed getting to know (via my twitter PLN) and interact with a couple of individuals who are diligent curators of all information related to educational technology:

Most recently (pic above) I mentioned to Gust that I thought two important new skills were to “disregard and discard”.  He asked me to explain further…here goes.

INFORMATION OVERLOAD

The increase of social media, the explosion of Web2.0 technologies and their inclusion in search engine returns means you get more than “web sites” and tens of thousands of returns for any search.

A current Google search for “Mobile Learning” (in quotes) brings back 3,710,000 returns.

Even refining the search to “mobile learning instructional design” returns 548,000 returns.

NO way you’re going to ply through a half a million returns. Even the best searcher, using advanced will get thousands of returns. I’ve watched students spend much too much time “finding” resources. Learning how to “disregard and discard” is an important skill to deal with information overload.

Discard & Disregard the stuff you don’t need to get to the stuff you do need.

HOW DEEP DO YOU GO INTO GOOGLE RETURNS?

Internet marketers and niche businesses work hard and expend a lot of money and resources on search engine optimization (SEO) to improve their web sites page rank (PR) and get it higher on Google’s list of returns. The idea is that the higher they are to the top (the first page is the Holy Grail for any business, which includes the first 2 – 5 listed who pay for the top position), the more money they can make because most people won’t look beyond the first couple pages.

This means the first few pages in Google (or any search engine) might not be the best for what you want.

You got to dig deeper.

Discard & Disregard the stuff you don’t need to get to the stuff you do need.

DISTRACTIONS

I know that when I get up and go to the gym in the morning, I can NOT check my email. If I do, I’m sucked into a “time hole” that I never recover from and (in the past) never got in my work out.  For me, I must disregard my email in the morning, before working out.

Efficiency experts have many times for helping people best manage their time. If you’re interested in learning strategies/tips/tricks, I recommend following Marissa Brassfield (@efficient).

Facebook Google+, Blogs, videos, email, radio, news, twitter, instagram and more!
Michael Fitzpatrick calculated in a blog post last year that “Facebook Costs US Employers $28,000,000,000 per year” in lost productivity.

My wife’s company monitors all employee internet usage. Everyone signs a form acknowledging the fact at hiring. Prior to any employee review a report is generated and included as part of the review. It has not been uncommon to find an employee spending three or more hours per DAY on non-productive sites (Facebook, Craig’s List, ESPN/NFL, Match.com, etc..) .

With the advances of MOBILE technology and devices that contain apps for most anything–anywhere, anytime connectivity can be “good” and “bad”…and certainly their ease of accessibility can make them distracting. I’ve seen cell phones be a powerful tool for instructors in classrooms. I’ve seen them be a wasteful distraction for students who couldn’t manage their *productive* use.

Ever see a group of people (kids AND adults) with nobody talking, because everyone is on their cell phone?

The proverbial “double edged sword” of powerful technology REQUIRES us to discard & disregard.

PARALYSIS BY ANALYSIS

With so much information and connectivity the overload of information can be daunting.

I’ve worked with a number of businesses and executive recently that have been paralyzed by all of the information and “expert” advice they’re inundated with. When looking to initiate a strategy it’s critical to focus on the priorities that help make decisions easy. The ability to hold a priority and focus on a goal can help drive productivity.

Even in academic circles, talking with those who feel pressures to meet student needs, I find they’re entertaining so many theories, approaches and vendor sales pitches, they get nothing done.

  • When do you wait so long that a window of opportunity is lost?
  • How long can you weigh the pros and cons of an initiative?
  • How do you create inertia in the face of conflicting information?

What are your priorities & goals–stay focused.  Discard & disregard everything else.

Curation of information is critical to help you wade through the vast overload of information and many distractions. Consider using tools like Scoop.it and bookmarking sites like Diigo. Importantly, add YOUR notations and meaning to the information/content you’re curating. As a professional you want to build and maintain your professional library. The aforementioned tools can assist you with that endeavor, so you have your resources at your fingertips.

Take control of your life.

And feel good about discarding & disregarding things that are not congruent with your priorities and goals.

Good luck!