Guillory, J. & Hancock, J.T.  (2012, January). Emotional Expression and Contagion in Text-Based Communication. Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), San Diego, CA

Abstract

Emotional contagion occurs robustly across face-to-face (FtF) interactions,  but  does  this  occur  in  text-based  (TB)  communication (instant  messaging),  which  lacks  nonverbal  cues?  Two  studies  demonstrate people’s ability to express, identify and “catch” emotional states in TB  communication.  In  Study  1,  communication  partners  were  able  to distinguish  acted-out  positive  and  negative  emotional  expressions  of communication partners, who conveyed emotions with linguistic strategies. In Study 2, emotional contagion of negative emotion took place as induced  emotion  spread  from  one  group  member  to  two  partners.  Linguistic  differences  emerged  in  groups  sharing  negative  emotion  compared  to  those  sharing  no  specific  emotions.  This  supports  Walther’s (1992) argument that people employ verbal cues in TB communication to convey  relational  information  that  would  be  transmitted  via  nonverbal cues in FtF, and suggests that Eckman’s (1982) claim regarding nonverbal  markers  of  emotion  (e.g.,  facial  expression)  may  be  strict  requirements for catching emotions.