SARAH GREEN: So Jonah, in your research, you examine some of the reasons people share content on the internet, share products by word of mouth. And one of the reasons you give has to do with emotion, and that's not terribly surprising in and of itself. But what did surprise me was how different emotions are not exactly created equal when it comes to sharing things. Can you just tell us a little bit about how different emotions cause us to react differently when we're spreading the news about a new product or a new piece of content?
JONAH BERGER: You might think that all emotions are created equal, that all give us an equal likelihood of sharing. Or you might think that positive emotions make us share, but negative emotions don't. Share positive things 'cause that makes us look good and smart. We avoid sharing negative things because we don't want to be a Debbie Downer or put others in a bad mood.
But when we looked deeper, we found that it was more complicated than that. So we, in this case, looked at thousands of online pieces of content and measured whether or not those contents were highly shared, whether they made things like the most emailed list, and also measured the emotions that those pieces of content evoked. And what we found was interesting.
First we found that positive things, on average, are shared more than negative ones, but that it is more complicated than that. Some negative emotions, like anger or anxiety, actually increase sharing. While other negative emotions, like sadness for example, decrease sharing.