When you are looking online in a forum or looking over comments on an article, do you become enraged when you see an angry comment? Do you feel compelled to respond to the hateful comments even though you really don’t care about the subject? According to a group of researchers in China, anger is the most influential emotion, especially online.
China’s equivalent of Twitter is called Weibo. The researchers looked over “tweets” from this site’s 500 million users and analyzed them. There are over 100 million of them published every day. They divided them into four categories which were; anger, joy, sadness, and disgust. They divided them based on the word choice and overall tone in the post and looked at the responses to the posts to see how quickly the emotions escalated from the subject matter.
The paper that this research was published in was called “Anger is More Influential Than Joy: Sentiment Correlation in Weibo”. They took 70 million posts from over 200 million people. These posts were made over a six month period. What they learned from these posts was that anger was far more influential an emotion when it came to responses than sadness or joy. Sadness didn’t seem to have that much effect on the emotions of those responding.
In the paper they describe how anger catches on quickly and spreads through a very broad network. They said this is most likely the reason that scandals that deal with the government, food, and other hot topic news items spread like wildfire through the website. This is also true of any other country, especially the US. They say that it seems that, because of this influence that anger has, it is as if you need to be angry to be heard online.