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Poster A70

Fault Lines and TikTok: How Social Media Influences Emotional Decisions

Poster Session A - Saturday, April 13, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Katie Cooke1 (, Baie Ensio2, Chase Elliott3, Alexander Clayton4, Carole Scherling5; 1Belmont University

Easy accessibility to social media equates to increased access to emotionally charged materials. Research shows correlations between social media use and emotional modulations (Christensen, 2018; Mugg, 2005), with TikTok presenting highly-emotional content to maintain engagement (Kin, 2017). Inductions using such platforms have demonstrated concurrent changes in physiological markers of arousal (Siedlecka, 2018) and cognition (Forgas, 1998). To investigate TikTok’s influence on emotional induction, physiology, and fault attribution, 34 undergraduates were randomly assigned to watch either positive or negative clips. Afterward, participants completed a fault-attribution questionnaire (AIQH; Combs, 2007); where higher scores mean higher fault rates. Physiological measures of heart rate (HR) and skin conductance (GSR) were collected throughout. We hypothesized higher fault attribution rates for the negative group, as well as higher physiological arousal. An independent samples t-test did not reveal differences in fault attribution rates between groups, t(32)=0.26,p= 0.79. A mixed model 2x2x3 ANOVA investigated potential interactions between the groups during fault/no-fault attributions, extracting measures at 3 time points (Pre=5 seconds before, At decision=upon fault attribution, Post=3 seconds after). The negative group showed increased HR “At decision” (F(32)=0.904, p= 0.035) and at “Post” (F(32)=5.938, p= 0.021). Further investigation is required for GSR, which did not achieve significance. In conclusion, while negative TikTok induction did not increase fault attribution rates, higher heart rate was apparent when making these decisions, and afterward upon rumination. This may explain the covert burden of emotional media content, where outward behaviors are maintained but the cognitive load is increased.

Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotion-cognition interactions


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April 13–16  |  2024