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Twitter Data Study Suggests Users Are Happier When Far From Home

Researchers analyzed 37 million tweets to discover that contentment increases exponentially the further we travel from familiar places.

Daniela Walker
Daniela Walker on April 23, 2013. @emptyofpocket

They say home is where the heart is, but a new study suggests that your happiness, at least as measured by Twitter, is increased the further from home you are.

Computer scientists at the University of Vermont studied Twitter geo-location data from 180, 000 users and pinpointed certain words to determine where people expressed the most happiness. They found that people were more likely to use positive words the further away they traveled from their ‘average location’ – the places they spent the most time such as home and work.

Individuals in the large radius group author the negative words ‘hate’, ‘damn’, ‘don’t', ‘mad’, ‘never’, ‘not’ and assorted profanity less frequently, and the positive words ‘great’, ‘new’, ‘dinner’, ‘hahaha’, and ‘lunch’ more frequently than the small radius group.

Tweets_Happiness_Study

That is not to say that people never use positive words near home, but rather less negative words were used when at a distance, so the level of expressed happiness seems higher. Of course, expressed happiness via tweets is not an accurate measure of actual happiness, just as a person’s Instagram feed isn’t an accurate representation of their everyday life (just the most photogenic moments) but the study shows just how data-gathering is changing. With people increasingly making more information about themselves available online through social media — where they are, what they are doing, who they are with – researchers have an entirely new pool of data to examine human habits.

Happiness and the Patterns of Life: A Study of Geolocated Tweets

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