The emotional broadcaster theory of social sharing

Kent D. Harber, Dov J. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article introduces the Emotional Broadcaster Theory (EBT) of emotional disclosure. EBT proposes that the intrapsychic need to share experiences with others serves the interpersonal function of transmitting news. According to the model, psychologically arousing stories will travel across social networks. In addition, the extent to which stories travel reflects the degree to which the original teller was affected by the experience shared. These hypotheses were tested in a field study wherein college students visited a hospital morgue. Students' reactions to this experience predicted how many people they told (primary sharing), how many people their friends told (secondary sharing), and how many people their friends' friends told (tertiary sharing). Within 10 days, nearly 900 people heard about this event through these cascading levels of disclosure. The relation of EBT to discrepancy theories of emotion and to basic beliefs is discussed, as are additional predictions arising from EBM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-400
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2005


  • Disclosure
  • Emotions
  • News
  • Social sharing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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