Not all emotions are created equal: Expressive behavior of the networked public on China's social media site

Celine SONG, Xin Yu Dai*, Jia Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study attempts to investigate the online expressive behavior of social media users in China. Specifically, we combine machine learning-based textual analysis with social network analysis to examine the structure and content of the discussion network which formed around the political aspects of food safety issues on China's Twitter-like Weibo. The findings suggest that Weibo-mediated communication space does not serve as an effective forum for deliberative discussion because people of like mind tend to cluster and the factor of emotion predominates. Further statistical analyses of a hand-coded sample show that emotional discussions influence people more than cognitive discussions, with distinct emotions (e.g., anger, fear and sadness) having different effects. A poster's status is also found to matter. We contend that this kind of online civic talk underlines an expressive form of rationality that transcends the dominant bipolar instrumental-communicative dimension for understanding the use of social media in online political discussion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-533
Number of pages9
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Volume60
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Connectedness
  • Emotional homophily
  • Online discussion networks
  • Responsiveness
  • Social media
  • Weibo

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