Emotions in social networks: Distributions, patterns, and models

Shengmin Jin, Reza Zafarani

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemConference contribution

9 Scopus citations


Understanding the role emotions play in social interactions has been a central research question in the social sciences. However, the challenge of obtaining large-scale data on human emotions has left the most fundamental questions on emotions less explored: How do emotions vary across individuals, evolve over time, and are connected to social ties? We address these questions using a large-scale dataset of users that contains both their emotions and social ties. Using this dataset, we identify patterns of human emotions on five different network levels, starting from the user-level and moving up to the wholenetwork level. At the user-level, we identify how human emotions are distributed and vary over time. At the ego-network level,we find that assortativity is only observed with respect to positive moods. This observation allows us to introduce emotional balance, the "dual" of structural balance theory. We show that emotional balance has a natural connection to structural balance theory. At the communitylevel, we find that community members are emotionally-similar and that this similarity is stronger in smaller communities. Structural properties of communities, such as their sparseness or isolatedness, are also connected to the emotions of their members. At the wholenetwork level, we show that there is a tight connection between the global structure of a network and the emotions of its members. As a result, we demonstrate how one can accurately predict the proportion of positive/negative users within a network by only looking at the network structure. Based on our observations, we propose the Emotional-Tie model-a network model that can simulate the formation of friendships based on emotions. This model generates graphs that exhibit both patterns of human emotions identified in this work and those observed in real-world social networks, such as having a high clustering coefficient. Our findings can help better understand the interplay between emotions and social ties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCIKM 2017 - Proceedings of the 2017 ACM Conference on Information and Knowledge Management
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450349185
StatePublished - Nov 6 2017
Event26th ACM International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management, CIKM 2017 - Singapore, Singapore
Duration: Nov 6 2017Nov 10 2017

Publication series

NameInternational Conference on Information and Knowledge Management, Proceedings
VolumePart F131841


Other26th ACM International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management, CIKM 2017


  • Emotions
  • Network Models
  • Sentiments
  • Signed networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Decision Sciences
  • General Business, Management and Accounting


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