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Affect in science communication: a data-driven analysis of TED Talks on YouTube


Fischer, Olivia; Jeitziner, Loris T; Wulff, Dirk U (2024). Affect in science communication: a data-driven analysis of TED Talks on YouTube. Humanities & Social Sciences Communications, 11(1):1-9.

Abstract

Science communication is evolving: Increasingly, it is directed at the public rather than academic peers. Understanding the circumstances under which the public engages with scientific content is therefore crucial to improving science communication. In this article, we investigate the role of affect on audience engagement with a modern form of science communication: TED Talks on the social media platform YouTube. We examined how two aspects of affect, valence and density are associated with public engagement with the talk in terms of popularity (reflecting views and likes) and polarity (reflecting dislikes and comments). We found that the valence of TED Talks was associated with both popularity and polarity: Positive valence was linked to higher talk popularity and lower talk polarity. Density, on the other hand, was only associated with popularity: Higher affective density was linked to higher popularity—even more so than valence—but not polarity. Moreover, the association between affect and engagement was moderated by talk topic, but not by whether the talk included scientific content. Our results establish affect as an important covariate of audience engagement with scientific content on social media, which science communicators may be able to leverage to steer engagement and increase reach.

Abstract

Science communication is evolving: Increasingly, it is directed at the public rather than academic peers. Understanding the circumstances under which the public engages with scientific content is therefore crucial to improving science communication. In this article, we investigate the role of affect on audience engagement with a modern form of science communication: TED Talks on the social media platform YouTube. We examined how two aspects of affect, valence and density are associated with public engagement with the talk in terms of popularity (reflecting views and likes) and polarity (reflecting dislikes and comments). We found that the valence of TED Talks was associated with both popularity and polarity: Positive valence was linked to higher talk popularity and lower talk polarity. Density, on the other hand, was only associated with popularity: Higher affective density was linked to higher popularity—even more so than valence—but not polarity. Moreover, the association between affect and engagement was moderated by talk topic, but not by whether the talk included scientific content. Our results establish affect as an important covariate of audience engagement with scientific content on social media, which science communicators may be able to leverage to steer engagement and increase reach.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > General Business, Management and Accounting
Social Sciences & Humanities > General Arts and Humanities
Social Sciences & Humanities > General Social Sciences
Social Sciences & Humanities > General Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > General Economics, Econometrics and Finance
Uncontrolled Keywords:Natural Language Processing, Science Communication, Engagement, YouTube, Affect
Language:English
Date:8 January 2024
Deposited On:15 Jan 2024 17:11
Last Modified:30 Apr 2024 01:47
Publisher:SpringerOpen
ISSN:2662-9992
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-023-02247-z
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)