The Psychology of Oversharing

Recent research shows that when people experience heightened physical and emotional states, they are more likely to share information over the Internet. Sometimes too much. 

What's the Latest Development?

Whether its a politician tweeting career-ending photos of himself or a just a friend sharing something online, it turns out we are more likely to share information when we are emotionally or physically stimulated. Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger found that the news stories most frequently shared online were ones that evoked emotions such as anger, awe or anxiety. In another experiment, Berger found that people were much more likely to share an emotionally neutral story after having exercised. 

What's the Big Idea?

Whether or not we pass along some information online may have more to do with our own state and less to do with the content of the information itself. Of the kinds of information shared online, information that communicates emotion is by far the most common, says Bernard Rimé, a psychology professor at Belgium's University of Louvain. Emotions, he says, are at the center of one's personal experiences and by sharing our emotional states with others, we demonstrate our primal desire to be a member of a wider community. 

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