Mapping America's Real-Time Mood with Twitter

Researchers from Northeastern University and Harvard College embarked on an interesting endeavor: they fed about 300 million tweets to a system using ANEW (Affective Norms for English Words, from the University of Florida), which assigns a positive or negative emotional value to words. They then mapped the results onto a tweet density preserving US map, which makes land masses larger relative to the amount of tweets its population generates.

A fair criticism about the method is that the word-by-word ANEW rating is a pretty rudimentary model when one wants to capture the mood of a complex sentence, even limited to 140 characters. For instance, a tweet like “I like the dark color of this painting” may be misinterpreted as negative because of the word "dark." But the researchers argue that this kind of bias is uniformly distributed over the country, like a background noise, which may affect the basic scale but not the relative positivity of mood. Regardless of the study’s imperfections, it results in a pretty cool video showing the American mood evolving over two days.

From this animation, the West Coast is clearly happier than the East Coast. Within one day, the best mood occurs in the morning and evening, with a low between noon and 3PM. Not surprisingly, the weekend shows the highest level of positive mood over the week.

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I also love how Texas is the only state that some how have the same mood, but a different mood from all the neighboring states, so that Texas always retains its "boundaries". And ya, Cali is always happy it seems lol.

chadlachlanross said,
And West Virginia is NEVER happy. Anyone else notice that?

wouldn't you be unhappy if you had to live near all those rednecks

Why are people allowed to waste time and money on such stupid research? Twitter really? How about lets rate popularity of places by facebook friends....

shakey said,
Why are people allowed to waste time and money on such stupid research? Twitter really? How about lets rate popularity of places by facebook friends....

We do research because we want to know something, or just because we can and someone might later find a use for the data! Stuff like this usually has private sponsors anyway.

shakey said,
Why are people allowed to waste time and money on such stupid research? Twitter really? How about lets rate popularity of places by facebook friends....

Because social platforms such as twitter, facebook are great places to analyze human activity. They are controlled by humans and the data is readily available.

woohoo we have a digital "thingy" that tells us what we already knew, people are miserable at work and happy in the mornings, evenings and weekends when they are not working

Science is hard at work

Teebor said,
woohoo we have a digital "thingy" that tells us what we already knew, people are miserable at work and happy in the mornings, evenings and weekends when they are not working

Science is hard at work

I wonder if they thought about the fact that so many people say "Goodnight" or "Goodmorning" in the mornings and evenings, but nobody says "Goodnoon!"

Seems like a pretty meaningless and non-scientific effort.

Neb Okla said,

I wonder if they thought about the fact that so many people say "Goodnight" or "Goodmorning" in the mornings and evenings, but nobody says "Goodnoon!"

Seems like a pretty meaningless and non-scientific effort.

Nothing you will learn here, except that the west coast is seemingly using more positive words than the east coast. But I think the value of the whole thing is more the visualization of data. Infographics can convey a lot of information, and is a very useful tool to summarize big trends.