Facebook Interactions Before And After The Start Of Relationships

FBDataPostsVsRelationshipWhat happens to status updates before and after two Facebook users enter into relationships? The Facebook Data Science Team was on the case as part of its series on love and Facebook for Valentine’s Day week.

The Facebook Data Science Team found that posts shared between future couples accelerate at a slow but steady rate in the 100 days prior to those couples changing their relationship statuses to “in a relationship,” but that figure begins to trend downward after day one. However, sentiment in posts shared between the two parties trends much more positive.

Carlos Diuk offered more details in a post on the Facebook Data Science page:

Relationships start with a period of courtship: On Facebook, messages are exchanged, profiles are visited, posts are shared on each other’s Timelines. The graph (above) shows the average number of Timeline posts exchanged between two people who are about to become a couple. We studied the group of people who changed their status from “single” to “in a relationship” and also stated an anniversary date as the start of their relationship. During the 100 days before the relationship starts, we observe a slow but steady increase in the number of timeline posts shared between the future couple. When the relationship starts (“day zero”), posts begin to decrease. We observe a peak of 1.67 posts per day 12 days before the relationship begins, and a lowest point of 1.53 posts per day 85 days into the relationship. Presumably, couples decide to spend more time together, courtship is off, and online interactions give way to more interactions in the physical world.

However, don’t be discouraged by the decrease in online interactions, as the content of the interactions gets sweeter and more positive. We used statistical methods to automatically analyze a set of aggregated, anonymized timeline interactions. For each timeline interaction, we counted the proportion of words expressing positive emotions (like “love,” “nice,” “happy,” etc.) minus the proportion of words expressing negative ones (like “hate,” “hurt,” “bad,” etc.). The following graph shows the proportion of positive over negative feelings being expressed in Timeline posts before and after the beginning of a relationship. We observe a general increase after the relationship’s day zero, with a dramatic increase in days zero and one.

Readers: Have your experiences been similar?

FBDataPositiveEmotionsRelationship

Image of couple with tablet courtesy of Shutterstock.

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