Emotional Contagion from Search Engine Queries to Social Media Posts: Implications for Digital Platforms’ Socially Responsible Operations

33 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2018 Last revised: 17 Sep 2023

See all articles by Xia Wang

Xia Wang

Renmin University of China - School of Business

Xin Li

City University of Hong Kong (CityU) - Department of Information Systems

Haibing Gao

Renmin University of China

Yubo Chen

Tsinghua University, School of Economics & Management

Date Written: May 2, 2019

Abstract

Society expects firms to be socially responsible. Recent advances in information technology and artificial intelligence have further attracted public attention toward social responsibility of information services provided by digital platforms. Despite being an important source of information and a central component of current human lives, the social responsibility of search engines has not been well studied. This study joins the emerging debate on the social responsibility of digital platforms, and examines emotion contagion from search engine query results to social media posts, which could lead to a cascade of emotions expressed on the Internet. Using a unique user behavior data from a leading search engine and a leading microblogging platform in China, our research found that the sentiment of search query results can influence the sentiment of social media posts. Moreover, in light of the theory of emotion regulation and impression management, we considered the query context, which can be public or private, to understand the identified emotional contagion. We found that search engine query results have a stronger emotional contagion effect on social media sentiment in a private context, while this effect is reduced or even reversed in a public context. Our findings suggest that researchers and managers should be concerned about users’ emotional well-being when using search engine operations, which also has implications for socially responsible operations of other digital platforms.

Keywords: Search Engine, Emotional Contagion, Social Media, Text Mining

Suggested Citation

Wang, Xia and Li, Xin and Gao, Haibing and Chen, Yubo, Emotional Contagion from Search Engine Queries to Social Media Posts: Implications for Digital Platforms’ Socially Responsible Operations (May 2, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3242876

Xia Wang

Renmin University of China - School of Business ( email )

Beijing
China

Xin Li (Contact Author)

City University of Hong Kong (CityU) - Department of Information Systems ( email )

83 Tat Chee Avenue
Kowloon
Hong Kong

Haibing Gao

Renmin University of China ( email )

Room B906
Xianjin Building
Beijing, Beijing 100872
China

Yubo Chen

Tsinghua University, School of Economics & Management ( email )

Beijing, 100084
China

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