Take a moment before getting emotional online

Swiss and German scientists studied our emotional responses during online discussions and say we get worked up easily, especially when we are particularly attracted or repulsed by what we’re reading.

But, given time, we tend to calm down a bit, with our emotions returning towards baseline values.

They also analysed sentiment in the content of people’s comments, and found it depended heavily on whether participants agreed with or were disgusted by other comments.

People got worked up while commenting, but quickly calmed down after posting, they say.

The Dynamics of emotions in online interaction

We study the changes in emotional states while reading and participating in online discussions.

We find that the dynamics of valence and arousal in online interaction relax over time towards baseline values and but are driven towards emotional states that depend on the content of the discussion.

We apply sentiment analysis to the text produced by participants, finding that its content depends on the participant’s valence, and that their arousal significantly decreases after writing a post.

Our work empirically validates the dynamics of a model of online collective emotions, bridging online data analysis with research in the laboratory.

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