Online photo sharing and the associated engagement from other users, defined as number of likes and comments received for a post, is a key function of modern social media. However, little is known about emotional responses of social media users to the received engagement, and how such responses might drive social media photo sharing. In this study, we present a model of emotional mediation of the effects of social media engagement on posting frequency and content change. To test our model, we conducted a within-subject online experiment with 248 social media users. During the experiment, the participants were exposed to three conditions following a photograph sharing scenario: their usual pattern of engagement, more engagement than expected, and less engagement than expected. In each condition, the participants reported their emotions, estimated the time until their next post, and chose a photo for their next post. The results of the study indicated that high-arousal positive emotions mediate the effects of more engagement than expected on posting frequency. Both high-arousal and low-arousal negative emotions mediate the effects of less engagement than expected on content change. The practical implications for creating effective social media campaigns and improving user experience are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106940
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Early online date4 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2021


The following companies provided the figures used in this survey: CIDTEC, Reticon, Toshiba, Fairchild, Sanyo, Texas Instruments, Thomson-CSF, Philips, EEV, Sony and TV Technology.


  • Emotions
  • Likes and comments
  • Photo sharing
  • Posting frequency
  • Social media content
  • Social media engagement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)


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