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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gauging moods on Twitter

Trends intrigue me. The way we track them intrigues me too.

The USA Today has an article on their website reporting research that indicates “people are the happiest during Sunday mornings and saddest during Thursday evenings” based on some 300 million tweets over a three year period.

Teacher holding up signs

Researchers used “happy” and “sad” words to gauge moods, using a process called “Affective Norms for English Words.”

Here are the top words on their lists:

Happy words
1. paradise
2. laughter
3. friendly
4. sweetheart
5. affection
6. excellence
7. romantic
8. pleasure
9. treasure
10. rollercoaster

Sad words
1. betray
2. grief
3. headache
4. failure
5. sick
6. debt
7. fearful
8. upset
9. bomb
10. seasick

Looking over this list, I’m not convinced I buy their conclusions.

Someone might have tweeted, “It’s just another day in paradise” while meaning he is stuck inside his cubicle walls again. Another person might have tweeted, “Just a little friendly advice, you better get out of my way.” In both cases, “happy words” would be anything but happy.

Someone might have tweeted, “Avatar was da bomb” or “I might have experienced failure recently, but it was all just part of my journey toward success.” In both cases, “sad words” aren’t at all sad.

Context matters.


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