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Venting your emotion on Twitter could make you feel better

In this recent study in collaboration with Johan Bollen and co-workers from Indiana University, we have tracked the evolution of individual emotions and their expression in language for tens of thousands of Twitter users. We analyzed the emotional content of their tweets before and after they explicitly reported having a strong emotion (e.g. 'I feel wonderful', 'I feel terrible'), excluding the report itself. We estimate that positive and negative emotions last approximately 1.5 hours from onset to evanescence. Interestingly, while the expression of positive emotions is preceded by a short but steep increase in positive valence and followed by short decay to normal levels, negative emotions build up more slowly before they are expressed, immediately followed by a sharp reversal to previous levels. This result suggests the existence of a so-called 'catharsis' effect: could venting your emotions into words make you feel better?

Fan, R., Varamesh, A., Varol, O., Barron, A., Scheffer, M., and Bollen, J. (2018). Does putting your emotions into words make you feel better ? Measuring the minute-scale dynamics of emotions from online data, 1–32. arXiv preprint arXiv:1807.09725

 

10 Aug 2018

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