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Artif Life. 2011 Summer;17(3):237-51. doi: 10.1162/artl_a_00034. Epub 2011 May 9.

Happiness is assortative in online social networks.

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  • 1Indiana University, School of Informatics and Computing, Bloomington, IN 47408, USA.


Online social networking communities may exhibit highly complex and adaptive collective behaviors. Since emotions play such an important role in human decision making, how online networks modulate human collective mood states has become a matter of considerable interest. In spite of the increasing societal importance of online social networks, it is unknown whether assortative mixing of psychological states takes place in situations where social ties are mediated solely by online networking services in the absence of physical contact. Here, we show that the general happiness, or subjective well-being (SWB), of Twitter users, as measured from a 6-month record of their individual tweets, is indeed assortative across the Twitter social network. Our results imply that online social networks may be equally subject to the social mechanisms that cause assortative mixing in real social networks and that such assortative mixing takes place at the level of SWB. Given the increasing prevalence of online social networks, their propensity to connect users with similar levels of SWB may be an important factor in how positive and negative sentiments are maintained and spread through human society. Future research may focus on how event-specific mood states can propagate and influence user behavior in "real life."

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