What I Learned from this Controversial Facebook Experiment

You might have heard about the controversial Facebook study designed to measure “emotional contagion” in an environment where nonverbal cues, like facial expressions are missing. Basically Facebook manipulated the timeline of 689,003 people for a week and this is what they concluded:

When positive expressions were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks. “(you can find the full report here)

If you look around in online forums people are outraged because this test that was conducted without the explicit consent or knowledge of the users. Even though the ethics of how this test was conducted is questionable, I would like to focus on the test results, and how that applies to you and me.

This test pretty much demonstrates that what we choose to read throughout the day will have an emotional effect on us. Think about it… the type of content, news articles or Facebook posts you read can alter the way you view your day. It might even impact the result of the decisions you have to make.

We know that surrounding ourselves with happy people will make us happier… yet still the negative articles get my attention first before I turn my head to reading something inspirational in the morning.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to advocate being oblivious to our environment. What I’m trying to rationalize to myself first, is that I have to balance the type of content I read regularly. Consuming more positive and inspirational stories will have a positive effect on me.

I make a conscientious effort to surround myself with people who sincerely want to help me grow as a person. In books and articles I look for information that helps me, rather than depresses me.

What do you read daily? What type of information you consume before staring your day? Do you believe that your attitude is affected by the media?

Also, do you think that your emotional state can have an effect on your decision making process, the way you manage your business, and talk to clients and employees? If you have a moment, please leave your thoughts in the comment section. I appreciate every input you might have on this topic.

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