Happiness Begets Money: Emotion and Engagement in Live Streaming

Yan Lin, Dai Yao, Xingyu CHEN

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

146 Citations (Scopus)


Live streaming offers an unprecedented opportunity for content creators (broadcasters) to deliver their content to consumers (viewers) in real time. In a live stream, viewers may send virtual gifts (tips) to the broadcaster and engage with likes and chats free of charge. These activities reflect viewers’ underlying emotion and are likely to be affected by the broadcaster’s emotion. This article examines the role of emotion in interactive and dynamic business settings such as live streaming. To account for the possibility that broadcaster emotion, viewer emotion, and viewer activities influence each other, the authors estimate a panel vector autoregression model on data at the minute level from 1,450 live streams. The results suggest that a happier broadcaster makes the audience happier and begets intensified viewer activities, in particular tips. In addition, broadcasters reciprocate viewer engagement with more smiles. Further analyses suggest that these effects are pronounced only after a live stream has been active for a while, and they manifest only in streams by broadcasters who have more experience, receive more tips, or are more popular in past live streams. These results help platforms and broadcasters optimize marketing interventions such as broadcaster emotion enhancement in live streaming and quantify the financial returns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-438
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Marketing Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • digital marketing
  • emotion
  • engagement
  • live streaming
  • social media
  • text analysis
  • video analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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