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Detecting concurrent mood in daily contact networks: an online participatory cohort study with a diary approach

10 Jul 2018

Objectives

This paper examines how people express personal mood concurrently with those connected with them by one or two degrees of separation.

Design

Participatory cohort study.

Setting

Online contact diary.

Participants

133 participants kept online diaries for 7 months in 2014, which included 127 455 contacts with 12 070 persons.

Main outcome measures

Diary keepers rated a contacted person’s mood during each specific contact, as well as the strength of ties between any pairs of such contacted persons. Such rich information about ties and contacts enable us to construct a complete contact network for each diary keeper, along with the network members’ mood and tie strength. We calculate one’s overall mood by that person’s average mood score during the study period and take the shortest path between any given pair of contacted persons as the degree of separation. We further assume that two connecting persons in a contact network have made contact with each other during the study period, which allows us to examine whether and how personal moods occur concurrently within these contact networks.

Results

Using mixed-effects models while controlling for covariates at individual, tie and contact levels, we show that personal mood score positively and significantly correlates with the average mood among those directly tied to the person. The same effect remains positive and significant for those connected to the person by two degrees, although the effect size is reduced by about one-half. The mood of anyone separated by more than two degrees is statistically irrelevant.

Conclusions

Applying network perspectives and rich data at both tie and contact levels to inquiries about subjective well-being, the current study sheds new light on how an improved diary approach can help explain the sophisticated ways in which individuals express their personal moods concurrently during social interactions in everyday life, contact by contact.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open