Mufan’s research examines interpersonal and psychological processes in social media and communication technology. She employs multiple methods (e.g., online and lab experiments, observational study) to investigate the bidirectional relationships between social media use and psychological well-being, affective and cognitive effects of engaging in broadcast live media events and the interpersonal dynamics of social exclusion in online settings.
New communication technologies, such as live streaming services, allow people to concurrently consume and comment on their preferred media. Furthermore, these live streaming services also afford people the opportunity to discuss the media with hundreds, or even thousands of others, in real time. Durkheim’s theory of “collective effervescence” suggests that face-to-face encounters in ritual events conjure emotional arousal, so people often feel happier and more excited while watching events like the Super Bowl with family and friends through the television than if they were alone. However, it is unclear whether or not this phenomenon still holds in purely mediated environments. Live streaming technology provides easy access to the media event, the broadcaster and other co-viewers, but can it influence individuals’ affect and cognitive judgment about the events in the same way that Durkheim suggests? The proposed research aims to address the question using both computational and experimental methodologies. The first large-scale observational study aims to examine the linguistic differences between live chats and retrospective comments on broadcast live media events on YouTube. To further understand the causes and mechanisms of the potential intensification of emotions in live chats, several online experiments will be conducted to examine whether live (vs. recorded) video and co-viewing (vs. solo-viewing) can change people’s affective and cognitive responses.