The Spreading of Social Energy: How Exposure to Positive and Negative Social News Affects Behavior.
AbstractSocial news, unlike video games or TV programs, conveys real-life interactions. Theoretically, social news in which people help or harm each other and violate rules should influence both prosocial and violation behaviors. In two experiments, we demonstrated the spreading effects of social news in a social interaction context emphasizing social conventions and a nonsocial interaction context emphasizing moral norms. Across the two studies, the results showed that positive social news increased cooperation (decreased defection) but had no effect on cheating, whereas negative social news increased cheating but with no change in cooperation (or defection). We conclude that there is a spreading impact of positive social news in the conventional norm domain and of negative social news in the moral norm domain.