Crowdsourcing Happines on Twitter

December 22nd, 2011

It seems that people on Twitter are not particularly happy:

“It appears that happiness is going down,” says a University of Vermont researcher and head of a new study on wellbeing. The proof? Twitter, of course. Millions of users point to a global depression of an entirely non-monetary kind.

The team took 46 billion tweeted words across three years, and had users of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing machine to assign them happiness values—poison is unhappy, cake is happy, etc. These were then averaged and their frequency plotted, allowing researchers to calculate a rough global mood. From the graph above, you can see it’s not a major drop, but overall, we’re getting unhappier. Whether that means we as in everyone or we as in the tweeting populace is up in the air. Still, the UVM team feels confident enough to deem their Twitter lens a proper hedonometer—gauge of happiness—and extrapolate outwards