We’ve all become very familiar with the viral nature of the internet, but most of us will probably be surprised to hear that feelings and emotions are also capable of spreading as fast as a silly twerking YouTube clip. A new study suggests that the way we feel and express our daily moods online has the potential of transferring to those who read our Facebook posts and then multiplying.
USA Today reports about the University of California study that included more than a billion Facebook status updates from more than a million U.S. based Facebook users in their research. What researchers found was that status updates regarding our day to day moods have what they call a “multiplier effect on our emotions.” So basically if you’re seeing your Facebook friend’s long rant about what a bad day she is having, in turn you will begin to feel down in the dumps about your day and be more likely to post about your bad mood.
Senior author of the study James Fowler explains the findings saying, “This is a new way for emotions to spread that didn't exist before.” He adds, “"If it rains on your friend in New York, does it make you less happy in San Diego? The answer is 'yes.”
One bright spot of the study suggests that positivity tends to have a greater chance of spreading. So can this mean that simply being on Facebook surrounded by optimistic, positive friends can help us be happier? Maybe. Fowler explains, “These results suggest that online social networks are a force for increasing happiness. Every post you write that's happy causes another person to write one or two more posts that's happy. That's a doubling to tripling of one emotional experience.”
What do you think of the new study that finds moods can be contagious on Facebook?