The affective antecedents of cognitive social network activation

Catherine T. Shea*, Tanya Menon, Edward B. Smith, Kyle Emich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


How might people's moment-to-moment feelings influence the social network contacts they call to mind? Three datasets indicate that experiencing positive affect leads people to cognitively activate larger and more sparsely connected social network structures, while experiencing negative affect leads them to activate smaller, redundant social network structures. A preliminary association emerged between positive affect and activating large, diversified network structures in the General Social Survey. To isolate causality, we then conducted two experiments where we randomly assigned participants to experience either positive or negative affect. Both studies supported the hypothesized relationship between affect and cognitive network activation. These findings contribute to a burgeoning literature examining how psychological states shape the activation of social network structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-99
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Networks
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Affect
  • Cognition
  • Relationships
  • Social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences
  • General Psychology


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