Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why do we share stories, news and information with others?

Date:
June 30, 2011
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
People often share stories, news and information with the people around them. We forward online articles to our friends, share stories with our co-workers at the water cooler and pass along rumors to our neighbors. Such social transmission has been going on for thousands of years, and the advent of social technologies like texting, Facebook and other social media sites has only made it faster and easier to share content with others.

People often share stories, news, and information with the people around them. We forward online articles to our friends, share stories with our co-workers at the water cooler, and pass along rumors to our neighbors. Such social transmission has been going on for thousands of years, and the advent of social technologies like texting, Facebook, and other social media sites has only made it faster and easier to share content with others. But why is certain content shared more than others and what drives people to share?

Well, according to Jonah Berger, the author of a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, the sharing of stories or information may be driven in part by arousal. When people are physiologically aroused, whether due to emotional stimuli or otherwise, the autonomic nervous is activated, which then boosts social transmission. Simply put, evoking certain emotions can help increase the chance a message is shared.

"In a prior paper, we found that emotion plays a big role in which New York Times articles make the most emailed list. But interestingly, we found that while articles evoking more positive emotions were generally more viral, some negative emotions like anxiety and anger actually increased transmission while others like sadness decreased it. In trying to understand why, it seemed like arousal might be a key factor," says Berger, the Joseph G. Campbell Jr. Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of Pennsylvania.

In the study, Berger suggests that feeling fearful, angry, or amused drives people to share news and information. These types of emotions are characterized by high arousal and action, as opposed to emotions like sadness or contentment, which are characterized by low arousal or inaction. "If something makes you angry as opposed to sad, for example, you're more likely to share it with your family and friends because you're fired up," continues Berger.

Berger is especially interested in how social transmission leads online content to become viral. "There is so much interest in Facebook, Twitter, and other types or social media today," he says, "but for companies and organizations to use these technologies effectively they need to understand why people talk about and share certain things."

Two different experiments were conducted to test Berger's theory that arousal promotes information sharing. In one experiment, which focused on specific emotions, 93 students completed what they were told were two unrelated studies. In the first study, students in different experimental groups watched video clips that made them either anxious or amused (high arousal emotions) or sad or content (low arousal emotions). In the second study, they were shown an emotionally neutral article and video and asked how willing they would be to share it with friends and family members. The results demonstrated that students who felt high arousal emotions were much more inclined to share with others.

The second experiment dealt with arousal more generally. 40 students were asked to complete what they assumed were two unrelated studies. First, they either sat still or jogged in place for about a minute -- a task proven to increase arousal. Then they were asked to read a neutral online news article and told they could e-mail it to anyone they wanted. The findings showed that students who jogged in place and were aroused were more likely to e-mail the article to their friends and family, as opposed to the students that just sat still.

Berger states that the implications of this study are quite broad. "People's behavior is heavily influenced by what others say and do. Whether you are a company trying to get people to talk more about your brand, or a public health organization trying to get people to spread your healthy eating message, these results provide insight into how to design more effective messages and communication strategies."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Berger. Arousal Increases Social Transmission of Information. Psychological Science, 2011; DOI: 10.1177/0956797611413294

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Why do we share stories, news and information with others?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110630131838.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2011, June 30). Why do we share stories, news and information with others?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110630131838.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Why do we share stories, news and information with others?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110630131838.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) — It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) — Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) — Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins