In a Chinese social network, it was found that messages expressing emotions of anger invoke and perpetuate similar emotions from readers of those messages.
Indeed, Rui and co confirmed this by studying the content of many of the angry tweets they had collected. They say that two kinds of events seem to trigger angry messages.
The first are conflicts between China and foreign countries, such as the military activities of the US and South Korea in the Yellow Sea and a collision in September 2010 between a Chinese and Japanese ship.
The second are domestic social problems like food security, government bribery and the demolition of homes for resettlement; all hot topics in China. “This can explain why the events related to social problems propagate extremely fast in Weibo,” say Rui and co.
Of course, it would be interesting to see whether the same effect can be observed in western networks such as Twitter. That should be relatively straightforward to find out given the growing interest in sentiment analysis and the increasingly effective tools available to carry it out.
The moral of the story is that when it comes to the spread of information, anger is more powerful than other emotions.