“Collective Emotions and Social Resilience in the Digital Traces After a Terrorist Attack”

Jul 20, 2019 | 10:5012:20

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David Garcia will give this talk together with Bernard Rimé from Université de Louvain.


The talk is part of the oral presentations 5 “Emotions” at the IC2S2 2019 conference, which takes place in Amsterdam from July 17 to 20, 2019.





After collective traumas like natural disasters and terrorist attacks, members of concerned communities experience intense emotions and talk profusely about them. While these exchanges resemble simple emotional venting, we hypothesized them to represent a peer-to-peer analogue of Durkheim’s (1912) theory of emotional effervesce in collective gatherings: participants’ reciprocal emotion stimulation would lead to higher levels of solidarity in the community.


We present a large-scale test of our extension of Durkheim’s theory through the analysis of the content of peer-to-peer interactions in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks of November, 2015. We collected more than 17 Million tweets generated by 62,114 individuals that we analyzed through the French adaptation of the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count method. We applied an agent-based modelling approach to explain how collective emotions are built on individual emotional experiences and social sharing of emotions.


We found a collective negative emotional response followed by a marked long-term increase in the use of lexical indicators related to solidarity. Expressions of social processes, prosocial behavior, and positive affect were higher in the months following the attacks for the individuals who participated to a higher degree in the collective emotion.


These effects can be observed in the online visualization of our analysis: http://dgarcia.eu/ParisAttacks.html


Our findings support the conclusion that the social sharing of emotions after a disaster is associated with higher solidarity, revealing the social resilience of a community.


More details of the research questions, data, and analysis of this submission can be found in the PsyArxiv preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8envw/


Jul 20, 2019


IC2S2 Amsterdam