Emotion-exchange motifs: Unraveling Structural Patterns of User Interactions in Online Social Networks

Ema Kusen

Publication: ThesisDoctoral thesis


Over the recent years, online social networks (OSNs) have become a vital part of our society. Their role in the real-world events, such as political elections or the recent Covid-19 crisis, has been widely discussed in the popular media as well as in the research community. Given that OSNs are platforms where human users connect to exchange their opinion and lead discussions, emotions play an important role in the way people perceive OSN messages. Online manipulation and radicalization have been recognized as serious threats to our modern society. Multiple studies have demonstrated that emotions play a role in the way people behave upon encountering emotionally-charged messages on OSNs. The question, however, remains which role do emotions play in a direct communication among OSN users. The goal of this PhD thesis is to identify patterns that emerge as OSN users exchange emotionally-charged messages. Thus, this thesis presents a novel concept called emotion-exchange motifs that serve as basic building blocks of emotion-annotated communication networks.
The results reveal that not all negative emotions are exchanged in the same way, nor do they result in the same communication structures. Emotions such as sadness and disgust are predominantly and characteristically responded to by other emotions (e.g., sadness attracts joy/love, while disgust attracts anger). The inclusion of positive emotions into a negative-emotion exchange is associated with a reciprocal message-sending behavior. Fear-exchange is highly representative for its reciprocity and is highly associated with an information seeking behavior. Emotion-exchange motifs serve as good indicators of a human-like vs. bot-like behavior on Twitter.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Institute for Complex Networks
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 102
  • 102015 Information systems
  • 509

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