Emotional persistence in online chatting communities

Authors: Antonios Garas, David Garcia, Marcin Skowron and Frank Schweitzer

Scientific Reports (2012)

Abstract

How do users behave in online chatrooms, where they instantaneously read and write posts? We analyzed about 2.5 million posts covering various topics in Internet relay channels, and found that user activity patterns follow known power - law and stretched exponential distributions, indicating that online chat activity is not different from other forms of communication. Analysing the emotional expressions (positive, negative, neutral) of users, we revealed a remarkable persistence both for individual users and channels. I.e. despite their anonymity, users tend to follow social norms in repeated interactions in online chats, which results in a specific emotional “tone” of the channels. We provide an agent - based model of emotional interaction, which recovers qualitatively both the activity patterns in chatrooms and the emotional persistence of users and channels. While our assumptions about agent's emotional expressions are rooted in psychology, the model allows to test different hypothesis regarding their emotional impact in online communication.