An agent-based model of collective emotions in online communities

Frank Schweitzer and David Garcia

The European Physical Journal B (2010)


We develop an agent - based framework to model the emergence of collective emotions, which is applied to online communities. Agent’s individual emotions are described by their valence and arousal. Using the concept of Brownian agents, these variables change according to a stochastic dynamics, which also considers the feedback from online communication. Agents generate emotional information, which is stored and distributed in a field modeling the online medium. This field affects the emotional states of agents in a non - linearmanner.We derive conditions for the emergence of collective emotions, observable in a bimodal valence distribution. Dependent on a saturated or a superlinear feedback between the information field and the agent’s arousal, we further identify scenarios where collective emotions only appear once or in a repeated manner. The analytical results are illustrated by agent - based computer simulations. Our framework provides testable hypotheses about the emergence of collective emotions, which can be verified by data from online communities.