Stop typing your complaints and start typing your blessings: A new study shows that posting a positive status update on Facebook spreads the happy to your friends.
Researchers analyzed over a billion Facebook statuses between January 2009 and March 2012 in the 100 highest population cities in the U.S.
They examined status updates in cities where it was raining (rain has been shown to increase the number of negative posts and decrease the number of positive ones) and the affect these statuses had on cities where it wasn’t raining.
The study, published in PLOS ONE, took measures to make sure they weren’t just testing the effect of the rain itself.
‘For our analysis, to get away from measuring the effect of the rain itself, we had to exclude the effects of posts on friends who live in the same cities,’ said lead author James Fowler, professor of political science in the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego.
The researchers found that each positive post generated about 1.75 additional positive posts amongst friends, while each additional negative post spurred 1.29 more negative posts.
What does this mean? Not only do your status updates affect the emotions of your friends, but positivity is more easily spread than negativity. And that’s something to be happy about.
‘It is possible that emotional contagion online is even stronger than we were able to measure,’ Fowler added.
The study suggests that boosting positive activity on social media could have a widespread affect on global happiness. Big leap? Maybe. An interesting concept? Definitely.
So next time you’re ready to vent, break open the ‘ol low-tech diary, write it down – you know, pens? remember? – and save the good stuff for the internet. Hey, you could be spreading world peace.
HEALTHISTA CHALLENGE: Post something positive for your network to see today. May we suggest one of these inspiring memes?
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