Researchers have gone through 65,000(!) articles where readers assigned an emotional reaction scores to viral articles. Then published their research on Harvard Business Review:
Viral content typically evokes high-arousal emotions, such as joy or fear. But new research suggests arousal is just one of the underlying drivers of viral content. High dominance, or a feeling of being in control, may be another key driver behind content that is widely shared.
New work from Jacopo Staiano of Sorbonne University and Marco Guerini of Trento Rise sheds light on the roles that valence, arousal, and dominance play in content that goes viral. The findings indicate that individual emotions may not determine virality — what really matters may be where the emotions fall within the Valence-Arousal-Dominance (VAD) model. This scale is frequently used in psychology to categorize emotions. Each individual emotion is a combination of three characteristics
-Valence is the positivity or negativity of an emotion. Happiness has a positive valence; fear has a negative valence.
-Arousal ranges from excitement to relaxation. Anger is a high-arousal emotion; sadness is low-arousal.
-Dominance ranges from submission to feeling in control. Fear is low-dominance; an emotion a person has more choice over, such as admiration, is high-dominance.
You can read the entire article here!