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The individual dynamics of affective expression on social media

Understanding the temporal dynamics of affect is crucial for our understanding human emotions in general. In this study, we empirically test a computational model of affective dynamics by analyzing a large-scale dataset of Facebook status updates using text analysis techniques.

Our analyses support the central assumptions of our model: After stimulation, affective states, quantified as valence and arousal, exponentially return to an individual-specific baseline. On average, this baseline is at a slightly positive valence value and at a moderate arousal point below the midpoint. Furthermore, affective expression, in this case posting a status update on Facebook, immediately pushes arousal and valence towards the baseline by a proportional value. These results are robust to the choice of the text analysis technique and illustrate the fast timescale of affective dynamics through social media text.

These outcomes are of high relevance for affective computing, the detection and modeling of collective emotions, the refinement of psychological research methodology, and the detection of abnormal, and potentially pathological, individual affect dynamics.


M. Pellert, S. Schweighofer, D. Garcia, The individual dynamics of affective expression on social media, EPJ Data Science 9 (1) (2020)

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