Everyone strives for life satisfaction or happiness, which inspired researchers to find out if people are happy through their Twitter posts. Tweets can reveal life satisfaction among individuals, research says.
The study conducted by the University of Iowa (UI) involved researchers gathering data from Twitter posts in a span of two years, to gauge the happiness level of its users.
Headed by Chao Yang and Professor Padmini Srinivasan from the UI's Department of Computer Science, the team digged into 3 billion tweets made from October 2012 to October 2014. They filtered the data on self-reflection tweets from the words "I," "mine" and "me."
The researchers, with the help of two students from the Linguistics Department of UI, created an algorithm that would acquire the basic form of expressing life satisfaction. The statements made by a user will then be translated to create a retrieval template, looking for similar expressions from other Twitter users.
For instance, the statement template "my life is great" would generate such statements as "my life is fabulous" or "my life is wonderful" and so on.
Using this algorithm, the computer scientists found that the user's feeling of happiness and life satisfaction over a long period of time remained steady, as opposed to other studies which say that life satisfaction is affected by external circumstances and events such as politics and sports.
The researchers also found some difference between satisfied and dissatisfied Twitter users. Satisfied users tend to be more active on Twitter, spending more time on the account and using more hashtags but fewer URLs on posts. Tweets from dissatisfied people tend to use profanity, conjunctions and personal pronouns.
The study's findings also include the psychological processes of the user's satisfaction. People with good life satisfaction tend to use positive words in their tweets, and 10 percent are more likely to use religious words compared with dissatisfied people who would use negative words to express emotion.
Dissatisfied people on Twitter are 10 percent more likely to express emotion using words associated with anxiety, anger, depression and death.
"With this research, we can get a better understanding of the differences between those who express satisfaction and those who express dissatisfaction with their life. Possibly in the future, with more such studies, one might design suitable interventions," Srinivasan said.
The study's findings were published on March 16 in the journal PLOS ONE.
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