The Effects of Memes on Social Behavior

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Participants reported using memes to collectively manage stressful emotional experiences and as an effective means to shape political discourse and share information about current political events.

Memes have long been described as complex, nuanced and ever-evolving objects that both echo and inflect epistemic discussions to various degrees. I present the results from my study of deliberate users of political memes on Facebook using Limor Shifman’s threefold approach, taking into account content, form, and stance as part of its tridimensional characterization of memes.


Memes are cultural units that quickly spread via social media, from person to person through humor or serious content and hidden messages. While memes may serve to connect people together, they can also be used to spread false information quickly; often outpacing any truth-telling efforts. Utah State University computer science professor Nick Flann recently gave an engaging talk called Science Unwrapped that compared memes to biological viruses that infiltrate an individual’s mind quickly before spreading through viral replication; just like genes leap from body to body via sperm or eggs memes can spread rapidly using “share” buttons instead.

Memes can also be used to promote new ideas or products, like movies, TV shows, or songs. Some memes are created solely by one individual while others involve collaborative efforts – for instance Success Kid is often altered with captions about unexpected successes that make the meme even more effective and allow for multiple interpretations of its meaning.

Memes can also be used to encourage positive behavior. They can inspire exercise or blood donation and foster a sense of community among certain groups such as LGBTQ individuals or people conceived via donor sperm/egg donation.

Research has demonstrated the power of memes to enhance a person’s sense of belonging within their social networks, reduce stress levels and depression by offering some lighthearted humor, communicate identity such as ethnicity or gender; for instance some groups use memes to celebrate their unique culture and heritage through memes.

This research showed that memes could be used to communicate COVID-19 risk and foster social participation, supporting Collective Coping Theory that suggests people exposed to risky information may use memes as an effective means of dealing with their fears.

Social identity

Memes are an increasingly popular form of online social commentary and self-expression, often used to communicate a wide variety of ideas and emotions from profound philosophical questions to contemporary political issues. Memes can often be identified by an easily recognisable image or video clip with an amusing caption or phrase attached; some memes aim for humor while others aim for emotional reaction.

Richard Dawkins first popularized the term “meme” in his 1976 book, “The Selfish Gene,” when he defined it as a cultural unit that spreads from person to person through imitation. Like genes, memes can either be beneficial or detrimental; positive memes might encourage religious traditions or political stability while negative ones may cause harm for individuals or society as a whole.

Researchers have identified several factors that impact the efficacy of memes. One key element is that memes work best when associated with strong emotional states like anger or disgust, which allows people to identify with and share them more readily with friends. Other aspects include its source, number of likes/comments received and whether or not it serves a specific purpose.

Recent research conducted on COVID-19 crisis messaging and consumer use of memes as a coping mechanism has identified four stages of collective coping and confirmed memes as an effective means to decrease stress and anxiety associated with risk communication, while at the same time serving as an important source of virus information dissemination.

Memes have long been used as a form of political activism, with certain memes being more effective than others. Memes that address issues related to sexism in science can serve as powerful counter arguments against claims that women cannot participate in scientific research. On the other hand, there may be harmful memes as well, including those which spread false information; governments or private entities could potentially use such memes to manipulate public sentiment and foster distrust among citizens.


Memes have become a widely utilized means of modern communication, serving as a vehicle for self-expression, social bonding and political subversion. But they do more than meet the eye; researchers are beginning to recognize that memes transmit profound philosophical ideas as well as current political issues – having an immense effect on how we perceive certain situations.

One of the most influential memes ever created was Kenny video, uploaded online in 2013. It quickly went viral due to its ability to illicit an emotional response in viewers; an essential characteristic for viral content that spreads virally – particularly videos evoking strong feelings like humor or anger.

Studies have shown that people are more likely to share videos when they feel connected with those responsible, a phenomenon known as social currency that can be leveraged to manipulate people’s behaviors and perceptions. Because of this, it’s crucial that when considering sharing any meme it should always consider its origins first.

Internet memes may be relatively new phenomena, yet research into them has grown steadily over time. Studies employ various methodologies to assess and measure their influence on society; more specifically they have investigated psychological mechanisms driving social memes including social exchange, self-presentation, identity formation etc. which have proven effective models for predicting social behaviour.

Recent research conducted with LINE, an instant messaging app, investigated the influence of personality traits on internet meme behavior. They discovered that Neuroticism positively related to value expectations associated with functional foods consumption while Extraversion negatively related. Furthermore, usage satisfaction and replicative behaviors were strongly affected by these variables.

This study’s results demonstrate how internet memes can serve as a useful source of information for those experiencing psychiatric symptoms, helping them manage their symptoms more effectively and build social connections among individuals in similar situations. This can be a helpful way of alleviating some of the stress and anxiety caused by mental health difficulties.


Memes are culturally shared pieces of information that are spread via social media and can easily be copied and replicated, often humorous but sometimes controversial and provocative. Memes can be used to express political beliefs or promote causes, go viral and even inspire action; their full impact remains to be studied.

One new study examined the role of memes in political settings and found they promote discussion while not necessarily directly engaging in deliberative practices. These results are significant as they demonstrate memes are powerful tools for political communication that can promote ideologies or attitudes, increasing or diminishing participation levels accordingly. Memes must always be carefully evaluated before being used.

Researchers used an exploratory approach to examine the role of memes in political contexts by interviewing participants about why they use them. Results demonstrate that users perceive memes as an easy, effortless engagement tool driven by self-expression and social identity motives; potentials and limitations of memes in political settings were discussed as well as whether memes are replacements or complements for more deliberative political processes versus simply supplements thereof.

Participants whose political ideologies aligned with those presented in memes were more likely to engage in conversation about them and share the memes with others. Researchers also discovered that these memes tend to create politically charged anger among viewers, suggesting they can trigger emotional responses in viewers that prompt further dialogue on important topics.

As politicians and political parties increasingly use social media to reach their constituents, it’s critical that we understand the effects of memes on human behavior. Memes offer insight into our culture while potentially altering how we interact. They can serve as grassroots activism tools against status quos or simply provide entertainment; yet it must be handled carefully so as not to spread false information and promote arguments which distort realities.