Determining the Nation’s Happiness with Twitter

Scientist Attempts Twitter Version of Facebook's Gross National Happiness

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[ Social Media]

You may recall Facebook’s Gross National Happiness project, in which status updates throughout the social network are monitored for positive words to give an idea of how happy people are in general.

New Scientist reports that a computer scientist named Alan Mislove at Northeastern University in Boston (along with some colleagues) has been analyzing a similar phenomenon with tweets on Twitter. Instead of "Gross National Happiness", they call this the "Pulse of the Nation", as it looks at U.S. tweets. The team found that the west coast is happier than the east coast. New Scientist’s Celeste Biever reports:

Alan Mislove works on Twitter Happiness projectTo glean mood from the 140-character-long messages, the researchers analysed all public tweets posted between September 2006 and August 2009. They filtered them to find tweets that contain words included in a psychological word-rating system called Affective Norms for English Words – a low-scoring word on ANEW is considered negative, a high-scoring one positive. They also filtered out tweets from users outside the US, and also from those in the US who did not include their exact location – for example, their city – in their Twitter profile.

That left 300 million tweets, each of which was awarded a mood score based on the number of positive or negative words it contained. For example, "diamond", "love" and "paradise" indicate happiness, whereas "funeral", "rape" and "suicide" are negative. "Dentist" is fairly neutral.

It’s an interesting project, but Twitter just doesn’t have the amount of users Facebook does. In fact, just today Facebook announced that it has surpassed 500 million. I don’t know accurate a picture of happiness Facebook status messages paint, but I would imagine it’s a bit more of a complete picture than would be represented by Twitter. 500 million users around the world.

Determining the Nation’s Happiness with Twitter
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  • http://lanta-krabi.blogspot.com/ Lanta

    It does have a lot of sad people with something lacking in their life that drives them there.

    …if someone tweets “I am not happy”, the team’s method counts the tweet as positive because of the word “happy”. “It’s a very naive and simple approach,” he says…..

    With the short length of twitters is should be easy to get some kind of context out of it. NLP is way more advanced that just pulling words.

  • http://www.amareway.org/ Happiness formula frank

    Thanks for an interesting article about Twitter happiness trends! I’d suggest to have a look at our review of subjective well-being/happiness formula ebook on http://www.amareway.org/

    The free eBook is in its beta version, but already includes Facebook, Gallup, and other well-being index and benchmarks. In our experience, it is important for people to assess their happiness, and swb is something policy makers should keep in consideration as well. Your comments on the matter are really appreciated!!! THANKS!

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