03 October 2011

Twitter tweets Users' Emotional States: Study

Still suffering from the Monday morning blues? You may be in the minority, as most people in the world feel upbeat in the morning before becoming grumpier later in the day, finds to a new study on Twitter messages.

The study, which examined the contents of more than 500 million tweets sent in 84 countries over two years, found that people wake up happy but become grumpier as the day wears on and rebound in the evening, with a peak right before bedtime.

The study, published in the journal Science, also showed that people are happier from December to late June, when days gradually lengthen in the Northern Hemisphere.

The discovery, the researchers said, will interest those who are trying to understand how circadian rhythms and other natural influences shape our states of mind.

"We now have the ability to view societies at a massive scale using the Internet," said study leader Scott Golder, a graduate student in sociology at Cornell.

"This will open up opportunities for social scientists," Golder was quoted as saying by 'Los Angeles Times'.

According to the research, optimism is reborn with each new day and slowly erodes as people work, study and go about their quotidian affairs. Their mood lifts as they head home to friends, family, entertainment and beer, they said.

For the study, the researchers wrote a computer programme that sampled all Twitter accounts created between February 2008 and April 2009, gathering up to 400 messages or tweets from each account.

The programme compiled more than half a billion tweets, some of which expressed positive feelings like enthusiasm, delight and alertness, while others indicated negative emotions like distress, fear, anger, guilt and disgust.

Positive language accounted for about six per cent of all words used at the highest point but dropped to five per cent during working hours while negative messages rose slowly throughout the day.