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The Geography of Happiness

10 million tweets geotagged complex systems center hedonometer happy in napa

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#1 Hum

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 15:19

Sorry, Louisiana, you are the saddest state. And Hawaii (shocker!) you are the happiest.

That's according to a team at the Vermont Complex Systems Center, who posted their new analysis of 10 million geotagged tweets to to arXiv.org. They call their creation a "hedonometer."

They also found that the Bible belt stretching across the American south and into Texas was less happy than the west or New England. The saddest town of the 373 urban areas studied was Beaumont in east Texas. The happiest was Napa, California, home of many drunk people wine makers. The only town among the 15 saddest that was not in the south or Rust Belt was Waterbury, Connecticut. (Although Waterbury has appeared on several "worst places to live" lists, which seems like mean lists to make.)

The researchers coded each tweet for its happiness content, based on the appearance and frequency of words determined by Mechanical Turk workers to be happy (rainbow, love, beauty, hope, wonderful, wine) or sad (damn, boo, ugly, smoke, hate, lied). While the researchers admit their technique ignores context, they say that for large datasets, simply counting the words and averaging their happiness content produces "reliable" results.

Next to each word are two symbols, a plus or minus (+/-) and up or down arrows. The plus or minus indicates whether that word is considered happy or sad. The up or down arrow indicates whether that word was used more or less than average in that city. So, let's take '****' as an example. ****, a negative word, was used less often in Napa and more often in Beaumont. The size of the bar that you see shows how much that word contributed to the happiness rating for the city. So, the lack of ****s in Napa played a substantial role in its high rating, while the prevalence of ****s hurt Beaumont's happiness rating. Looking just at Beaumont, one can see why it got a low rating. The only positive words at the top of its ledger are "lol" and "haha," and there were not enough hahas to bring it up to the national average. The rest of the words -- ****, ass, damn, gone, no, bitch, hell -- were negative and used often.

For individual cities, the Vermont researchers note, the amount of swearing contributed substantially to their final scores. They think it's worth investigating this phenomenon, which they call "geoprofanity."

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#2 Growled

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 02:53

I guess religion makes a lot of people unhappy and freedom from it does the opposite?

#3 abecedarian paradoxious

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 03:00

Or the PC crowd can't say anything bad and the regular people can't think of anything good to say?

#4 remixedcat

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 03:26

country music makes yah sad too

#5 OP Hum

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 01:22

I guess religion makes a lot of people unhappy and freedom from it does the opposite?


Amen brother.

#6 Growled

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 01:46

country music makes yah sad too


It makes me mad because I can't stand it. :p

#7 remixedcat

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 02:23

same here... depressing lyrics and depressing sounds...


"mah tractor died and mah wife is havin sex with her brother......

........................................that's why I went back to bein a trucker"