Emotion Work on Social Media: Differences in Public and Private Emotions about Politics and COVID-19 on Facebook

Emily Van Duyn, Ashley Muddiman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Research has found that individuals may engage with emotions differently depending on social media platforms and/or social norms. Yet it remains unclear how individuals deal with emotions differently depending on whether the communication is public or private or depending on the topic. Using a 2 × 2 experimental design, we find that people engage in emotion work on social media, noting a difference in experienced emotion during the process of opinion expression and expressed emotion in the expression itself across both publicness and the topic of the message. Specifically, we find that those who express an opinion publicly or about politics in general experienced more anger than those who express an opinion privately or about COVID-19, who tended to express more anxiety. Yet patterns of emotional experience and expression were not always consistent. These results suggest individuals experience and express emotions differently depending on the publicness and topic of their communication. We discuss implications for how scholars conceptualize and study political expression on social media.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSocial Media and Society
Volume9
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2023

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • emotion
  • experiment
  • Facebook
  • politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Computer Science Applications

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