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The Social Media Mood Virus Discovered

social media moodsAre you emotionally affected by posts you read on social media? Is it having the effect that you want?

Read this interesting study that suggests social media posts, positive and negative, spread like a mood virus. Then, take steps to ensure you protect your own moods.

A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of California, Yale, and Facebook have found that moods can go viral, just like that funny cat video everyone’s been watching.

Social researchers have known for years that emotions spread through face-to-face interaction, but this is the first large-scale study to study whether these effects carry over into interactions on social media.

In gathering data for this study, researchers (some of whom were employed by Facebook at the time) examined billions of status updates posted between January 2009 and March 2012. They specifically examined how updated changed on rainy days. They then looked at posts of people who were Facebook friends with those impacted by rain, but who lived in areas where the weather was not as bad.

Do Both Positive and Negative Moods Go Viral?

The study found that every emotionally negative post as a result of the rain generated an extra 1.29 more negative post than usual. Interestingly, positive emotional posts had an even greater impact. Researchers found that happy posts generated an extra 1.75 positive emotional posts in the user’s Facebook friends.

Both results indicate that emotions can ripple through social networks online, eventually generating clusters of emotional synchronicity.

This information is of particular interest to those whose professions are greatly influenced by global emotion, such as politicians and financiers. This study indicates that spikes of global emotion could generate political unrest, or widespread caution in investment markets. It may also have an impact on clinical policies, as offering better car for individuals who are sick or suffering may have a more wide-ranging effect than a single individual.

So, if you find yourself in a particularly good mood, it may be emotionally beneficial to your friends if you make a few positive status updates. Likewise, if you find that the people on your friend’s list are bringing your emotional mood down, it may be best to log off for awhile and do some other things to keep your mood positive.

It may also be worth unfollowing those on your list who are consistently negative, as their consistently low mood may have a significant impact on your own emotional state.

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The Social Media Mood Virus Discovered

Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is the author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage and co-founder at The iNLP Center which offers online certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and life coaching.

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APA Reference
Bundrant, M. (2014). The Social Media Mood Virus Discovered. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 5, 2020, from


Last updated: 23 Mar 2014
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