Americans happiest on Sundays, gloomy on Thursdays: Study

Last Updated: Jul 29, 2010, 16:28 PM IST

Boston: Americans are happiest on Sundays, in mornings and evenings and most gloomy on Thursdays and mid-afternoons, according to a Northeastern University research based on millions of Twitter messages.

In a `Pulse of the Nation` study, computer scientist Alan Mislove at Northeastern found that the "tweets" suggested that the US west coast is happier than the east coast.

Across the country, happiness peaks each Sunday morning, with a trough on Thursday evenings. Researchers used the 140-character-long Twitter messages to glean the mood of the nation.

They analysed all public tweets posted between September 2006 and August 2009.

They then filtered them to find tweets that contained words included in a psychological word-rating system called Affective Norms for English Words (ANEW).

A low-scoring word on ANEW is considered negative, a high-scoring one positive.

The researchers also filtered out tweets from users outside the US as well as from those in the US who did not include their exact location.

That left 300 million tweets, each of which was awarded a mood score based on the number of positive or negative words it contained.

Words like `Diamond`, `love` and `paradise` indicated happiness, whereas `funeral`, `rape` and `suicide` were negative.

Findings revealed a pattern each day ? happy tweets from 6 to 7 am, sad tweets from noon to 4 pm and positive tweets again in the evening.

The study also observed weekly trends - weekends were much happier than weekdays.

"The visualisations are amazing and I think it is absolutely fascinating to see the nation`s mood vary in near-real time," says Johan Bollen of Indiana University in Bloomington.

The results reflect real mood swings ? at least among Twitter`s users.

"Since Twitter data is publicly available, mood can be sampled more quickly, simply and cheaply than using traditional polling tools ? albeit more crudely," Bryan Routledge at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said.

The researchers have said that the findings not totally scientific, since Twitter users live in large cities and are a fraction of the total population.

But according to the results, they have potential as a tool for providing real-time analysis of critical issues and mood of the nation, the study added.