Social Media as a Living Laboratory for Researchers: The Relationship Between Linguistics and Online User Responses

Aulona Ulqinaku*, Selma Kadic-Maglajlic, Gülen Sarial Abi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Today, individuals use social media to express their opinions and feelings, which offers a living laboratory to researchers in various fields, such as management, innovation, technology development, environment and marketing. It is therefore necessary to understand how the language used in user-generated content and the emotions conveyed by the content affect responses from other social media users.

In this study, almost 700,000 posts from Twitter (as well as Facebook, Instagram and forums in the appendix) are used to test a conceptual model grounded in signaling theory to explain how the language of user-generated content on social media influences how other users respond to that communication.

Extending developments in linguistics, this study shows that users react negatively to content that uses self-inclusive language. This study also shows how emotional content characteristics moderate this relationship. The additional information provided indicates that while most of the findings are replicated, some results differ across social media platforms, which deserves users' attention.

This article extends research on Internet behavior and social media use by providing insights into how the relationship between self-inclusive language and emotions affects user responses to user-generated content. Furthermore, this study provides actionable guidance for researchers interested in capturing phenomena through the social media landscape.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternet Research
Number of pages31
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Epub ahead of print. Published online: 15 December 2023.


  • Social media venues
  • Language
  • User-generated content
  • Sentiment analysis
  • Data sources
  • Emotional positivity index

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