If you have, then the study recently released by professors at the Warsaw University of Technology shouldn’t really surprise you. The key point: Negative emotions are the primary motivation for online comments. Furthermore, the longer the online discussion, the more negative the comments become. Spending almost any amount of time on an online discussion board will anecdotally confirm the researcher’s conclusions. Examining my own posting habits further confirms this.
Why is this true: Because, as human beings, we need an emotional attachment to fuel our commitment to a position over the long-term. We also have a bias towards expecting positive outcomes from the vast majority of our interactions with other people, goods or services. When our expectations aren’t met, we experience a negative emotion that demands to be vented. We need to blow off steam and in today’s hyper-connected society, this outlet is often manifested online.
But why do negative emotions motivate us more than positive emotions? I don’t know but I believe that they do. Try this simple test if you don’t agree: Think of a recent positive and negative experience with a service provider. Now go to a web site such as Yelp and try to write a review of each experience. Which review do you find easier to write? If you’re like me, it will be the negative review because you’re more motivated and your expectations weren’t met.
So, let’s send some positive emotions into the ether by conscientiously being positive whenever possible and negative whenever necessary.