What is it about?

Do you remember how you felt as COVID reached your country, and the first lock-down was imposed? We used the text of tweets in 6 different languages during the first 5 weeks of the COVID-outbreak in 18 countries, to trace people's emotional expressions around the world. We captured expressions of anxiety, anger, sadness and positive emotions, and investigate how they evolved as the virus spread, and as lock-downs were imposed.

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Why is it important?

Emotions influence our behavior, including our willingness to take action against the spread of a virus, or our resilience to cope with difficult personal situations. As people express their thoughts and opinions on social media, they leave a trace of how they are feeling. Combining the data of millions of people allows us to capture a population's overall emotional state from day to day as a crisis unfolds. It allows to look at changes compared to before the pandemic, and at changes during important events (like increasingly stringent measures against the spread of the virus). Understanding how the majority of people feel about current events is important for good risk communication, and for motivating everyone to work together to deal with a difficult situation.


Although emotional words used on Twitter don't tell us what exactly people felt, they give us a big picture of the prevailing emotional changes in a population. They help us to learn about people's current motions during a crisis.

Hannah Metzler

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Collective emotions during the COVID-19 outbreak., Emotion, July 2022, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/emo0001111.
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