Anger spreads faster and more broadly than joy, say computer scientists who have analysed sentiment on the Chinese Twitter-like service Weibo.
One well-known feature of social networks is that similar people tend to attract each other: birds of a feather flock together.
So an interesting question is whether these similarities cause people to behave in the same way online, whether it might lead to flocking or herding behaviour, for example.
Today, we get an interesting insight into this phenomena thanks to the work of Rui Fan and pals at Beihang University in China. These guys have compared the way that tweets labelled with specific emotions influence other people on the network.
And their conclusion is surprising. They say the results clearly show that anger is more influential than other emotions such as joy or sadness, a finding that could have significant implications for our understanding of the way information spreads through social networks.
These guys got their data from Weibo, a Twitter-like service that has become hugely popular in China. In just four years, it has attracted more than 500 million users who post around 100 million messages a day.
Research Paper: http://arxiv.org/abs/1309.2402 (Anger is More Influential Than Joy: Sentiment Correlation in Weibo Rui Fan, Jichang Zhao, Yan Chen, Ke Xu)