Social Media Shapes Opinions Stronger Than Thought, Study Finds

CBS Local– Social media lends its users an outlet to share their opinions, but how much does it influence their own thoughts? According a study published in the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, it heavily shapes the thoughts and opinions of those who are active on social media, more than researchers had thought.

Researchers showed 196 participants watch a 10 minute clip of the popular television show 30 Rock. During the viewing, some participants were shown tweets praising the show and others were shown tweets ridiculing it.

The participants who saw negative tweets decided they themselves disliked 30 Rock, while those who saw positive tweets decided they liked the show. Researchers said it was bandwagon effect, which they expected to an extent, though not as strongly as it happened.

“People who saw the negative tweets were less likely to enjoy the program because they thought other people didn’t like it,” said S. Shyam Sundar, the study’s lead author via a press release. “It was directly affected by what they thought others thought.”

Researchers said that the negative comments had a stronger impact than the positive ones, due to the brain’s negativity bias.

“We had expected that negative comments would only affect certain types of viewers who are predisposed to follow the crowd, but surprisingly, these findings were quite consistent across a variety of different personality types,” said T. Franklin Waddell, one of the study’s researchers.

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