The third line of my research agenda is rooted in the fruitful collaboration with micro-OB researchers. I research collective emotion and complex contagion, where emotion activation can happen in a multi-source social reinforcing process. To study such issues, I employ a multi-method approach that combines analysis of “big trace data” from digital media, computational modeling, and collaboration with experimental psychologists (e.g., Dr. Amit Goldenberg and his group). I am particularly interested in:
- The mismatch between individual and collective emotion. One interesting phenomenon on social media reported by Dr. Amit Goldenberg at the Harvard Business School is that weak individual emotionality and rising group emotionality may happen simultaneously (Goldenberg et al., 2020). What structural and perception mechanisms drive such a mismatch? The collective is always greater than the sum of its parts if we consider their interactions!
- Examine theoretical models: there are numerous widely-cited sociological and psychological theories for social networks – weak ties, Granovetter’s threshold models, structural holes, etc. But, in the digital age, do they still apply that we have brand-new types of relationships - the online friendship network on social media - as opposed to the old-fashioned email and neighborhood networks? Should theories be tested, revised, and from what perspectives?
I am currently working with Amit on a really explorative project for collective emotion. More TBA.