Understanding the role emotions play in social interactions has been a central research question in the social sciences. However, the challenge of obtaining large-scale data on human emotions has left the most fundamental questions on emotions less explored: How do emotions vary across individuals, evolve over time, and are connected to social ties?
We address these questions using a large-scale dataset of users that contains both their emotions and social ties. Using this dataset, we identify patterns of human emotions on five different network levels, starting from the user-level and moving up to the whole-network level. At the user-level, we identify how human emotions are distributed and vary over time. At the ego-network level, we find that assortativity is only observed with respect to positive moods. This observation allows us to introduce emotional balance, the “dual” of structural balance theory. We show that emotional balance has a natural connection to structural balance theory. At the community-level, we find that community members are emotionally-similar and that this similarity is stronger in smaller communities. Structural properties of communities, such as their sparseness or isolatedness, are also connected to the emotions of their members. At the whole-network level, we show that there is a tight connection between the global structure of a network and the emotions of its members. As a result, we demonstrate how one can accurately predict the proportion of positive/negative users within a network by only looking at the network structure. Based on our observations, we propose the Emotional-Tie model – a network model that can simulate the formation of friendships based on emotions. This model generates graphs that exhibit both patterns of human emotions identified in this work and those observed in real-world social networks, such as having a high clustering coefficient. Our findings can help better understand the interplay between emotions and social ties.
Recommended citation: Jin, Shengmin, and Reza Zafarani. “Emotions in social networks: Distributions, patterns, and models.” Proceedings of the 2017 ACM on Conference on Information and Knowledge Management. ACM, 2017.