People prefer communicating good news via text and Twitter while bad news is shared through a more intrusive medium such as telephone, according to a new study.
The means to share personal news – good and bad – have exploded over the last decade, particularly social media and texting.
But until now, all research about what is known as “social sharing,” or the act of telling others about the important events in our lives, has been restricted to face-to-face interactions.
The study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour, investigated what happens when people share via new media.
Social sharing is very widespread, said study author Catalina Toma, an assistant professor of communication arts at University of Wisconsin, Madison (UW-Madison).
“It’s almost like the event is not even real until you tell somebody,” Toma said.
The study, run by graduate student Mina Choi and Toma, included 300 undergraduate students at UW-Madison.
Participants kept track of how sharing affected their emotions by keeping a daily diary, in which they noted what they shared, where they shared it and how they felt both after the event and the sharing had occurred.
Results show that nearly 70% of the social sharing in the study took place via some kind of media, whether it was texting, phone calls, Facebook or Twitter.
Toma said people use phones, texting and social media to connect with others in a “substantial way.”
Further, participants strategically chose the media that could meet their psychological needs.
When experiencing positive events, people preferred to share via texting and Twitter, because both media are easily accessible from smartphones and are nonintrusive in that communication partners don’t have to reply immediately.
“When something positive happens, you want to tell it right away,” Toma said.
When experiencing negative events, people could justify interrupting their partners and preferred using the telephone, a more intrusive medium.
“You often hear people say when the phone rings, it’s bad news. Our data support that,” Toma said.
Choi and Toma also found that social sharing via media enhanced the emotional tone of the event. Sharing a positive event increased its impact, an effect known as capitalisation.