Study Examines Community Reaction On Twitter After NAU Campus Shooting

By Melissa Sevigny
Published: Friday, October 7, 2016 - 8:29am
Updated: Friday, October 7, 2016 - 10:44am

(Photo by Laurel Morales - KJZZ)
Part of NAU's campus was closed off after a shooting on campus on Oct. 9, 2015.

Oct. 9 marks one year since four students were shot, one fatally, on Northern Arizona University’s Flagstaff campus. Now researchers are using the shooting as a case study to see if Twitter can reveal how communities respond to traumatic events.

The study was conducted by the University of California-Irvine. Lead author Nickolas Jones said Twitter provides a new way to collect psychological data.     

“Trauma research is so difficult to do, lots of events go unstudied,” Jones said. “Twitter gives us the opportunity to rapidly enter the community and assess the psychological impacts of a collective trauma.”

Jones analyzed hundreds of thousands of tweets from local Twitter feeds. On the day of the Flagstaff shooting, negative emotion increased seven percent. Jones found similar spikes in two other cities after campus shootings.  

The paper appears in the journal of Psychological Methods this December.

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