Casual Effects of Language on the Exchange of Social Support in an Online Community
The provision of social support is a common function of many online communities, but a full understanding of the causal effect of emotion language on the provision of support requires experimental study. The frequency of positive- and negative-emotion words in simulated posts requesting emotional support was manipulated and presented to a sample of college students (N = 442) who were randomly assigned to read one of four simulated posts. Participants completed measures of the original poster's (OP's) distress, and they provided a response to the simulated post. These responses were subjected to a computerized text analysis, and their overall effectiveness was rated by two independent judges. Fewer positive-emotion and more negative-emotion words in the simulated post led to perceptions that the OP was distressed and unable to cope. Participant-generated responses to the post were highest in positive-emotion words when the simulated post was high in positive-emotion words, but low in negative-emotion words. Finally, simulated posts that were low in positive-emotion words received responses that were judged to be more effective than did simulated posts that were high in positive-emotion words. These findings have implications for understanding the role of emotion language on the exchange of online social support.
Biehl, Sarah A. and Kahn, Jeffrey H., "Casual Effects of Language on the Exchange of Social Support in an Online Community" (2016). Faculty Publications – Psychology. 67.