A team of researchers who used Twitter to study the breakups of hundreds of couples found that their tweeting behaviour changed significantly before and after the split.
The survey was conducted by researchers from Finland, Qatar, and Michigan, who looked at the tweets of 661 couples who they identified to be in a romantic relationship based on their social media activity.
The study documented three key psychological processes that take place during a breakup, all observed on Twitter:
1. Pre-relationship closeness being indicative of post-relationship closeness
2. “Stonewalling” – ignoring messages by a partner, which would be indicative of a pending breakup, and
3. Post-breakup depression, with an overall increase in the use of “depressed” terms
The team detected a general shift in tone following a breakup, which shifted from “I love you so” to “I hate when you”.
Additionally, once a couple had split, the researchers noted a marked decrease in followers, finding that each person unfollowed and was unfollowed by around 15-20 people.
“Though our data set is undoubtedly not representative of all relationship breakups we believe our study still shows the huge potential that public social media offers with respect to studying sociological and psychological processes in a scalable and non-obtrusive manner,” the report concluded.
(Broken heart image via Shutterstock.)