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Catching a mood on Facebook

Positive and negative emotions spread on social network

SAN DIEGO — Facebook users can spread emotions to their online connections just by posting a written message, or status update, that’s positive or negative, says a psychologist who works for the wildly successful social network.

This finding challenges the idea that emotions get passed from one person to another via vocal cues, such as rising or falling tone, or by a listener unconsciously imitating a talker’s body language, said Adam Kramer on January 27 at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Kramer works at Facebook’s headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif.

“It’s time to rethink how emotional contagion works, since vocal cues and mimicry aren’t needed,” Kramer said. “Facebook users’ emotion leaks into the emotional worlds of their friends.”

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