University of Maryland



April 22, 2022 Talk: Emotional Contagion in Online Groups as a Function of Valence and Status

This study examines emotional contagion in online group discussions, examining language as a mechanism of emotional contagion. In a lab study 235 participants interacted online with a partner who was an electronic confederate. We manipulated exposure to emotional language to test how a partner’s use of positive versus negative emotional language impacts participants’ felt emotions and their displayed emotional language. Status of one’s partner was manipulated to test how status moderates emotional contagion. We find that felt emotions are contagious in an online setting. Further, partner’s emotional language affect participant’s use of emotional language. We examine whether participant’s emotional language mediates the effect of partner’s emotional language on participant’s felt emotion and find some evidence for mediation through negative emotional language when interacting with a high-status partner. By controlling partner’s language, we find that positive emotional language of one’s partner leads to more group reflection and less perception of conflict, both task and relational