Author Archives: Fatima Warda

Negative emotions and Social Media During COVID-19

Emotions are a natural state of mind that are derived from a certain circumstance, mood or relationship. In the current state of the pandemic world, we are feeling a range of emotions from sadness, loneliness to anger. As humans, we are naturally inclined to share those emotions with each other. We tend to share our emotions in order to feel better and lighter. The sharing of our emotions is parts of our daily lives but it is highly prevalent during difficult and traumatic times.

The COVID-19 pandemic, being one of the most difficult and hard times for this generation, has created a similar effect as described above. The anger, sadness, and loneliness caused by isolation and lack of interaction is being released with the use of social media. Social media is not only a way to communicate with each other, but a platform from which we can experience each other’s emotions, feelings and thoughts. It has become an outlet for the world to express their feelings and emotions through a click of a button. The fear of COVID is causing people to experience anxiety and threat, they are scared to lose their loved ones and things that they value. In a peer reviewed article , a cross sectional study was done to calcule the perception of threat from covid 19 and found that there was a direct positive effect from the perceived threat of covid 19 to depression, anxiety, and anger. They also found that there was an ongoing relationship in which threat caused the presence of the negative mood which in turn caused emotions of irrational and agitation leading to a promotion of threat (Pérez-Fuentes, Jurado, Martínez, & Linares, 2020)

Even though sharing your emotions is a positive thing , the constant negative environment can lead to a worsen state of mind. The constant exposure to negative news and intense coverage of the COVID-19 virus is leading to negative impact on mental health. The negative climate on social media leads to an emotional contagion which creates a negative impact on one’s mental health. This is mostly because social media rewards emotionally charged messages.

A social psychology concept that applies to this is of social cognition. Social cognition is the study of how people remember information and then interpret that information about themselves and others. Social cognition applies to this situation because it explains how the negative climate of social media can lead to an increased amount of negative emotion. According to social cognition the way we perceive things and our surroundings is mostly because of the state that we are in. Our current mood that we are experiencing impacts the judgement of the people that we meet. This is applicable to negative emotion and social media because if we spend most of our time on social media where there is a constant exposure of disasters and negative news , you are more likely to perceive the reality and the world in a more negative way.

Another social psychology that applies to this situation is the two factor emotion theory. The two factor emotion theory states that in order to experience an emotion, two factors must be present: physiological arousal and the cognitive interpretation of that arousal. First, physiological arousal must take place such as perspiration, heavy breathing or the racing of one’s heart. Then, after physiology, a person must make an interpretation of that arousal to explain the why that arousal took place. Most of the time the cognitive interpretation is done based on the reactions to the arousal made by other people. Previous studies performed by IAAP show that in a case study with 512 college students , results from a regression analysis show that a higher level of social media use is associated with a worsen mental health. The increased exposure to the disaster news from social media led to greater fear and depression for participants (Zhao & Zhou, 2020).

The two-factor emotion theory is applicable to the rise of negative emotion and social media because both of these factors are present in enabling the negative emotions. First the physiological arousal in this situation is the fear, anxiety and panic that people are feeling. The physical feeling of loneliness, sadness and anger are the arousal element of the emotion, primarily caused by the isolation during the pandemic. In addition to people feeling the physiological arousal they are sharing what they are feeling on social media, where people from around the world can interact with. Second, and the most important in validating those negative feelings is the cognitive interpretation of this arousal. The arousal in hand is the negative emotion felt by people and the cognitive interpretation is being derived from the people on social media. As more people share their stories and struggles, others also react to and engage with the similar negative feeling being felt. This results in validating the negative emotion but at the same time creating a climate of negativity throughout social media.

Pérez-Fuentes, M., Jurado, M., Martínez, Á, & Linares, J. (2020). Threat of COVID-19 and emotional state during quarantine: Positive and negative affect as mediators in a cross-sectional study of the Spanish population. Retrieved December 09, 2020, from

Zhao, N., & Zhou, G. (2020, September 17). Social Media Use and Mental Health during the COVID‐19 Pandemic: Moderator Role of Disaster Stressor and Mediator Role of Negative Affect. Retrieved December 09, 2020, from

Misinformation and Social Media during COVID-19

Social media has played a major role in growing businesses, exchanging information, and improving the quality of communication. The various platforms of social media have allowed us to communicate and keep in touch with each other no matter the distance. It has evolved from being an entertainment accessory to a fully integrated part of society. With the widespread information that social media possesses, it also possesses the power of spreading false information. Over the years many people have shifted from getting their news from traditional tv channels to getting their news from social media platforms.

The sudden emergence of the new contagious virus COVID-19 has also led to a pandemic of misinformation. Since the coronavirus pandemic, people have been forced to stay at home and quarantine which has led to an increase in the amount of time spent on social media. Surveys were performed to show that US social media users’ time using social media increased by 1-2 additional hours per day because of the lockdown (Clement, 2020). Social media holds an immense and dangerous amount of power in how we recognize our surroundings. 

The increased amount of time being spent on social media makes people inclined to follow the advice of non-medical experts and follow misguided theories or sketchy home remedies for COVID-19. According to a study done by McGill University, people who tend to receive their daily news from social media are more likely to believe falsehoods about coronavirus and be the ones who are not practicing social distancing. This effect of social media has increased significantly during the pandemic because people are looking for guidance and recommendations but many are reliant on their social media apps to provide them with that. The same study talks about how, on the other hand, the people who watch traditional news and get their daily news from tv channels, are more likely to follow the public health recommendation (Bridgman et al., 2020). Our perception of daily lives is not what there is, rather we are influenced by what we expose ourselves to. This leads us to question why as humans we choose to believe the news on social media or why social media news and traditional news impact us differently.

Social psychology concepts that explain this phenomenon are availability heuristics and confirmation bias. Availability heuristics is a tendency to estimate that odds will occur by how easily an instance pops into your mind. It is our estimate of the likelihood that is mostly influenced by what is readily available in memory. We tend to use heuristics a lot especially on the internet and social media because it is easier than making complex analyses of large amounts of information. Since most of the people’s time is spent on social media, during the pandemic they are receiving all their information from social media. The availability heuristic is based on ease of retrievability and recall which means they are recalling information they saw on social media. A study done on availability heuristics showed that the participants who were introduced to availability cascades imitated others because they took the “simple availability of information as an indication of reliability and relevance” (Wilczek, 2020). For example, this can occur in our daily lives through social media platforms. On these platforms, the chains and threads of remedies for COVID can play a role in triggering the availability heuristic. Since that is the type of post you are most likely to interact with, you are more likely to remember them and as a result, believe them as real news. Even though they have no scientific support for them. This is why the power of social media on our perception is dangerous because it can lead to people recalling false information and as a result risking their lives and others’ lives. 

Another social psychology that applies to this theme is the concept of confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is the tendency to look for , interpret and recall information in a way that strengthens your prior opinions and beliefs. Since social media perceives how we perceive information confirmation bias solidifies the information that we are receiving from social media platforms. It is looking at the same thing as someone else but interpreting the meaning of it completely differently to fit your beliefs. An example of this would be as if you were to look at the recent events, even leaders and scientific figures promoted the safety measures and lockdown needed to be taken some people perceived it as a logical action whereas others perceived some information as oppression to their freedoms. A case study done by the Mayo clinic shows a similar effect of confirmation bias taking place. For a clinical study done on the use of hydroxychloroquine, the results generated claims about the efficacy of the drugs for the patients of COVID. This was highly the reason because of confirmation bias since the study was considered a “flexibilization” of science and not enough peer reviews took place. The effect of confirmation bias steered scientists to collect evidence that fit their narrative and beliefs (Oliveira, 2020).

Social media and misinformation go hand in hand. Even though social media brings a plethora of information it can also be the same source of false information that can lead to risking people’s lives in a worldwide pandemic.


Bridgman, A., Merkley, E., Loewen, P. J., Owen, T., Ruths, D., Teichmann, L., & Zhilin, O. (2020). The Causes and Consequences of COVID-19 Misperceptions: Understanding the Role of News and Social Media. doi:10.31219/

Clement, J. (2020, June 19). U.S. increased time spent on social due to coronavirus 2020. Retrieved December 09, 2020, from

Oliveira, L. (2020). Flexibilization of Science, Cognitive Biases, and the … Retrieved December 9, 2020, from

Wilczek, B. (2020). Misinformation and herd behavior in media markets: A cross-national investigation of how tabloids’ attention to misinformation drives broadsheets’ attention to misinformation in political and business journalism. Plos One, 15(11). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0241389