The Sense of Wonder is More Viral Than Anger

In many cases, these flare-ups triggered a chain reaction of anger, with User A influencing Users B and C, and outward in a widening circle of hostility, until it seemed all of Sina Weibo was burning. The users, according to the study’s authors, passed along these messages not only to “express their anger” but to instill a similar sense of outrage among other members of their online community on Sina Weibo—one of the only venues where the Chinese can circumvent government restrictions on traditional forms of media.

Jonah Berger, a professor of marketing at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, reached a similar conclusion after conducting a study in the United States. “Anger is a high-arousal emotion, which drives people to take action,” he says. “It makes you feel fired up, which makes you more likely to pass things on.”


The one emotion that outpaced anger in Berger’s study was awe, the feelings of wonder and excitement that come from encountering great beauty or knowledge, such as a news report of an important discovery in the fight against cancer. “Awe gets our hearts racing and our blood pumping,” Berger says. “This increases our desire for emotional connection and drives us to share.”


Folksonomies: memes social media sharing virality

/health and fitness/disease/cholesterol (0.452029)
/health and fitness/disorders/mental disorder/panic and anxiety (0.371355)
/health and fitness/disorders/mental disorder/depression (0.183227)

anger (0.967380 (negative:-0.430956)), Sina Weibo (0.856331 (neutral:0.000000)), Jonah Berger (0.839535 (positive:0.398256)), Sina Weibo—one (0.820300 (negative:-0.421982)), chain reaction (0.780754 (negative:-0.454911)), Berger’s study (0.774990 (neutral:0.000000)), high-arousal emotion (0.766732 (negative:-0.321316)), government restrictions (0.751842 (negative:-0.421982)), Wharton School (0.748806 (neutral:0.000000)), similar sense (0.744714 (negative:-0.421982)), similar conclusion (0.740568 (neutral:0.000000)), online community (0.737438 (negative:-0.421982)), traditional forms (0.734776 (negative:-0.421982)), United States (0.726060 (neutral:0.000000)), emotional connection (0.706797 (neutral:0.000000)), great beauty (0.701485 (positive:0.398645)), news report (0.700303 (negative:-0.259401)), important discovery (0.699711 (negative:-0.259401)), wonder (0.561094 (negative:-0.177393)), flare-ups (0.525780 (negative:-0.454911)), users (0.520829 (neutral:0.000000)), hostility (0.509238 (neutral:0.000000)), outrage (0.489569 (negative:-0.421982)), excitement (0.472541 (positive:0.398645)), drives (0.464810 (neutral:0.000000)), feelings (0.463597 (positive:0.398645)), cases (0.463382 (negative:-0.576038)), User (0.463041 (neutral:0.000000)), circle (0.462671 (neutral:0.000000)), desire (0.461498 (neutral:0.000000))

Jonah Berger:Person (0.912640 (positive:0.371669)), Sina Weibo:Company (0.461683 (neutral:0.000000)), Sina:Company (0.446126 (negative:-0.421982)), Wharton School:Organization (0.296509 (neutral:0.000000)), professor of marketing:JobTitle (0.280066 (neutral:0.000000)), United States:Country (0.277900 (neutral:0.000000)), University of Pennsylvania:Organization (0.253836 (neutral:0.000000))

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (0.967710): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago
University of Pennsylvania (0.943459): geo | website | dbpedia | freebase | yago | geonames
Feeling (0.841852): dbpedia | freebase
Joseph Wharton (0.751222): dbpedia | freebase | yago
United States (0.658877): website | dbpedia | ciaFactbook | freebase | opencyc | yago
Emotion (0.643243): dbpedia | freebase
University of Pennsylvania Law School (0.617996): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago
Emotions (0.599931): dbpedia
Ivy League business schools (0.595168): dbpedia | yago
Master of Business Administration (0.588053): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago
English-language films (0.553025): dbpedia
PASS (0.531110): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago
Debut albums (0.525163): dbpedia
Anger (0.509616): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
According to Jim (0.501821): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Hostility (0.495216): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

 What Emotion Goes Viral the Fastest?
Electronic/World Wide Web>Internet Article:  Shaer, Matthew (APRIL 2014), What Emotion Goes Viral the Fastest?, Smithsonian Magazine, Retrieved on 2017-06-20
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: wonder emotions virality