On Twitter, Anti-Vaccination Sentiments Spread More Easily Than Pro-Vaccination Sentiments

Source: Science Daily


A team of Penn State researchers has tracked how Twitter users feel about the new vaccine for combating influenza H1N1 and believes the results could help improve strategies for vaccination-awareness efforts. The researchers report that negative sentiment was contagious and suggest that negative opinions of vaccination may spread more easily than positive opinions. Microbloggers tended to tweet more anti-vaccine sentiments when their reciprocal connections expressed anti-vaccine sentiments, but that did not hold true when their reciprocal connections tweeted more positive sentiments. And when looking at the sheer volume of tweets, the team found that high volume of negative tweets seemed to encourage more negative tweets, while a high volume of positive tweets also seemed to lead to more negative tweets. “In other words, pro-vaccine messages seemed to backfire when enough of them were received,” says Marcel Salathe, who led the study. The results appear in the journal EPJ Data Science.

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