Hedonometer: Twitter Happiness Measure – What does it say

We examine the daily happiness on Twitter, as measured by Hedonometer, and look at happiest and unhappiest days of the year and of the week.

Launched on Apr 30, 2013, Hedonometer.orguses English-language tweets to create an average happiness index. Hedonometer is basedon research at the University of Vermont Complex Systems Center, and the technology from The MITRE Corporation.

To quantify the happiness of words, they merged the 5,000 most frequent words from 4 sources : Google Books, New York Times, Music Lyrics, and Twitter messages, resulting in about 10,000 unique words. Using Amazon Mechanical Turk service, each of these words were scored on a scale of (1) sad to (9) happy.

The happiest words were laughter (8.50), happiness (8.44), and love (8.42), while the saddest words were suicide (1.3), terrorist (1.3), and rape (1.44). The word with the highest standard deviation in happiness (std 2.92, avg 4.64) was "f**king", probably reflecting the very different happiness levels implied by its direct and metaphorical meanings.

Hedonometer reports daily average happiness since September 2008 to present, and since 2009, the overall trend is slightly decreasing.

Hedonometer for 2009-2012 period

The happiest days overall are Christmases and Dec 24 each year. Other happy days include holidays: Thanksgiving, New Year, Mother's Day, and Valentine's Day.

The days that standout for their unhappiness were (remember, this tool only covered English-language tweets from Sep 2008)

  • Sep 29, 2008, 5.95: words: Bailout, bill, down, failed.
  • June 25, 2009, 5.93, Michael Jackson died
  • May 2, 2011, 5.92, Osama bin Laden death announced
  • Dec 14, 2012, 5.89, Newtown shooting
  • Apr 15, 2013, 5.88, Boston Marathon bombing

Hedonometer is updated every 24 hours, and we can examine weekly trends by looking at 2013 graph for February and March:

Hedonometer for 2013, Jan-Mar

Besides the peak on Valentine's day (Feb 14), we note that the happiness increases on Friday (weekend anticipation), peaks on Saturday, then declines with Mondays and Tuesdays being unhappiest, and gradually climbs up till Friday again.

Here is the researchers explanation why Saturdays have a higher average "Happiness" than Tuesdays.

Hedonometer algorithm is described in detail in Temporal Patterns of Happiness and Information in a Global-Scale Social Network: Hedonometrics and Twitter., PLoS ONE, 6, e26752, 2011. [journal url] .

See also Researchers have created a 21st century global mood ring with data mining, GigaOm, Apr 30, 2013.