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Researchers Analyze Twitter To Find Happiest Parts of the United States

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the alternatively-adhd-affliction dept.

Twitter 160

Nerval's Lobster writes "If you live in Hawaii, congratulations: according to a new study (PDF) by researchers at the University of Vermont, you live in the happiest state in the union — at least as far as Twitter sentiment is concerned. (Hat tip to The Atlantic for posting about the research.) The researchers — affiliated with the University's Department of Mathematics & Statistics, Complex Systems Center, Computational Story Lab, and Advanced Computing Core — collected 10 million geo-tagged Tweets from 373 urban areas across the United States in 2011 and ran them through a system designed to tag each on a scale from 1 (sad) to 9 (happy). According to the study, the five happiest states include Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Utah and Vermont; the five saddest are Louisiana, Mississippi, Maryland, Delaware and Georgia. In general, the West and Northeast seemed much happier than the Mid-Atlantic and South—with the exception of Florida, which shaded 'happier' than many of the surrounding states. While the researchers admitted their study's limitations, there are certainly a lot of opportunities for refining the model: for example, if Hawaii's status as a vacation state affects its rate of 'happy' Tweets, or if incorporating languages other than English into the dataset would affect the ultimate results."

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Hawaii (2)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956635)

Frankly, I'm not surprised. I amazed many more Americans don't live in Hawaii. I realize there are many reasons people live where they do - Family and friend connections, employment, intertia... But man, if it was easy for me to move to Hawaii I'd be there in a shot. It's just such an agreeable place - Particulary places like Kauai.

Re:Hawaii (1)

Quanticfx (2443904) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956693)

Indeed, if I could find a job that allowed me to live there and could convince my wife to move to Kauai, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

Re:Hawaii (4, Insightful)

eksith (2776419) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956791)

Yes, but don't forget, a lot of people *visit* Hawaii as well, which would really add to those Tweets. Who doesn't let the world know they're enjoying their vacation these days (or suffering, whichever the case). I mean it's a lovely place to be, if you're already well off or have the means to support yourself. As you added, employment and inertia are key here, since you can keep in touch with friends and family over Skype.

Re:Hawaii (3, Interesting)

theakstonsXB (1075239) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956915)

Great point. Study claim is geolocated tweets *not* that people living there tweet. Seems that the vacation spots have the highest happiness. Who knew.

Re:Hawaii (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957537)

My first thought after I read the summary. There's a couple of reasons you air your comments, among what I consider the most popular are 1. To complain and 2. To brag about what you're doing.

Most of the time, people using tweeter will have more time on vacations and tweet from their vacation spot. The other side is people complaining about work or even how annoying is that they are back from vacations.

Re:Hawaii (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957165)

They obviously didn't do this study a couple of weeks ago in LA during Mardi Gras!!!!

I think the 'happiness meter' would have blown through the roof if they did....

Or, perhaps they did this poll on Ash Wednesday, when everyone here was hungover?

Either way, I have a hard time believing the LA is in the saddest category....everyone here seems to generally be upbeat, happy, and glad we live in (at least in the NOLA area) a place with no open container laws, and you can get a drink 'to go' from a bar...and there's always a festival going on year round.

Re:Hawaii (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957231)

Either way, I have a hard time believing the LA is in the saddest category....everyone here seems to generally be upbeat, happy, and glad we live in (at least in the NOLA area) a place with no open container laws, and you can get a drink 'to go' from a bar...and there's always a festival going on year round.

And mustn't forget the Drive-Thru Daiquiri Shops...

I think the secret to their analysis is that they didn't consider the possibility that some people are too busy partying to tweet. They're only accounting for the people who are happy, but not TOO happy....

Re:Hawaii (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957349)

Maybe the tweeters are all the people who aren't in the streets and are frankly miserable from all night partying. Or don't like living in a city with a murder rate consistently among the highest in the nation? Or with the second highest poverty rate?

Re:Hawaii (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957573)

You're right, and I was thinking of another huge flaw in this study -- it determines not where the happiest people are, only where the happiest people who use twitter are. I don't know a single person who uses Twitter. Now, if they'd used FaceBook rather than Twitter it would be far more representative, but I don't use Facebook either and only half the people I know do.

Re:Hawaii (1)

eksith (2776419) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958009)

Lot of folks stay off Twitter because it can be a little addictive and because they don't see much use in it. Also, some people start and then stop Twitter as it can get overwhelming at times for some people. People may be posting pics on Facebook and occassionally commenting, replying to messages etc... but I doubt happy people heavily socialise on social media.

I do get some enjoyment from Twitter. Granted a lot of it is meaningless rubbish, but you'd be surprised how pithy someone can be in under 140 characters.

Re:Hawaii (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956837)

I'm an Australian who has visited Hawaii. I'm not surprised at this result, Hawaii is lovely. The people were nice, lots of attractive people on the beaches but without the pretension of Californian beaches, seemed to be a healthy local economy, good food, relatively low population density (I'm guessing, there seemed to be a lot of open space), good climate and relatively prosperous.

Re:Hawaii (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957259)

relatively low population density (I'm guessing, there seemed to be a lot of open space)

You must not have spent time in Honolulu then.

Re:Hawaii (2)

operagost (62405) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956859)

I amazed many more Americans don't live in Hawaii.

Yeah, I wonder.

I realize there are many reasons people live where they do - Family and friend connections, employment, intertia... But man, if it was easy for me to move to Hawaii

Well, those are several good reasons.

Re:Hawaii (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956911)

I thought the place was a shithole, myself. I only stayed to break up the 20+ hr flight across the Pacific. The jarring clash between crass American culture and the beautiful landscape was painful to be around, frankly.

Re:Hawaii (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957345)

Don't believe it. I live in Hawaii, and it's not paradise. There's no work, people here nuts....

The reason Hawaii is skewed toward being the, "Happiest state" is because of all the tourists that are tweeting. There are not that many computer literate people who live here. It ain't us.

tom

Re:Hawaii (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957485)

There are not that many computer literate people who live here.

Implying that you need to be "computer literate" (whatever that means) to use Twitter.

Re:Hawaii (2)

chipschap (1444407) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957359)

Well, I live in Hawai`i and I'm pretty happy about it :) But if you want to move here --- there's a problem with the high cost of living and relatively low paying jobs, if you even find one. Someone once called it "New York prices on Midwest wages." No so easy go Hawai`i, brah.

Duh (4, Insightful)

tekrat (242117) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956671)

So, lemme get this straight... If you live in a tropical paradise, you're happier than if you live in a state with a depressed economy and terrible weather.

In other news, grass is green.

Re:Duh (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42956811)

No if you're posting from a vacation destination you're probably happy.

Re:Duh (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956941)

Indeed. Nevada (Las Vegas, Reno) is also a popular vacation destination. All we know about the Tweets in question is that they were "geo-tagged" - not that they came from residents. I'm guessing Florida (Disney World) would have ranked higher if it weren't for all the angry old people populating the rest of the state.

Re:Duh (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957489)

Old people don't tweet. They shout randomly at strangers and consider that the same thing.

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957681)

You haven't checked out the conservative twitter tags. It's all random shouting at strangers, often from accounts with pictures of old people in the profile. It's terribly embarrassing for sane Conservatives.

Mod Parent Up (1)

awtbfb (586638) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956945)

No if you're posting from a vacation destination you're probably happy.

Exactly. If the researchers didn't account for traveling behavior (i.e., check to see if the person was posting from their typical geographical region) then the results would be heavily skewed by vacations. Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Utah and Vermont are all popular vacation locations.

Re:Duh (1)

Kenja (541830) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956887)

You're missing the most important part, apparently if you dont use Twitter you're not happy!

Re:Duh (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956977)

I'm not sure how you came to that conclusion but I assume you don't use twitter so there may be some true that.

Re:Duh (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957695)

Its called selection bias.

Maybe sad people seek greater attention through tweeting such that P(tweet | happy) is significantly less than P(tweet | sad)

In such a case the ratio between happy and sad tweets would not contain much information about a geographical area. A better measure would be happy tweets per capita, and sad tweets per capita, both being distinct measures such that the happiest place could also be the saddest place.

Re:Duh (1)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956895)

Actually, Maryland is quite affluent and has been relatively less affected by the economic downturn -- due to its proximity to Washington DC. Perhaps it's the latent self-loathing of all of the folks working for the Federal gov't that's being picked up? ;-)

(This observation is only partially tongue in cheek and posted by a member of an endangered species, the Maryland Small Business Owner)

Re:Duh (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956981)

No, it doesn't even mean that. It means that people in a tropical paradise use the word happy more often in their twitter posts than people in other states. It has little correlation with actual happiness - or at least, a completely unknown correlation. And even the causation is incredibly suspect. In other words, this is a bullshit study with no informational content.

Yeah, I'm bitter, because I get to support these same useless tools in our company and get to field questions around "so how does this work" and "so you mean this is completely useless" and "why do you sell such useless crap?"

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957461)

In a depressed economy there's no tourists. If you live in a state that relies on tourism, ... This study must have happened recently because tourism's picking up lately (a good sign of the economy in general, I'd say).

Re:Duh (2)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957905)

It's even simpler than that: they engaged in massive selection bias.

Words like "beach" were scored with a high happiness rating, according to the paper. From there, it's trivial to see that people living closer to the beach will score higher on the happiness index, even if they're not necessarily happier, and sure enough, virtually the entire American coast is painted with happy colors on the map contained in the paper (with the exception of the Gulf Coast, which was unsurprisingly painted with unhappy colors, given that the BP oil spill was still relatively recent at the time that the data was polled).

Another example is that "hi" was rated as a happy word, yet "HI" is the state code for Hawaii, which would obviously mean that Hawaiians simply referring to their state using the state code (which is quite likely, given the 140 character limit on Twitter) would have an artificially bumped happiness rating on their tweet. They even acknowledged this in the paper, but chose to ignore it.

It's one thing if you want to rate words that are not associated with a location (e.g. "rainbow") as happy, but if you're going to rate common terrain features as happy, you're clearly biasing your data towards people living in regions that exhibit those features.

Religious, Racist States are Unhappy? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42956675)

Colour me shocked. People that make it their business to hate people don't enjoy life.

troll (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42956717)

because everyone who lives in XX thinks the same as everyone else who thinks XX Frankly I see more hate from those who claim that other people are full of hate then I do the people that are claimed to be full of hate

Re:Religious, Racist States are Unhappy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42956951)

I can't tell if your sense of american geopolitics is really that messed up, or if you just don't care.

Re:Religious, Racist States are Unhappy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957005)

sad thing is someone modded that trash up

Re:Religious, Racist States are Unhappy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957083)

Uhh? Utah is the second most religious state and the fourth most happy.

Pinnacle of Psuedo Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42956689)

"While the researchers admitted their study's limitations,"
-Ya no shit it has limitations. Here's a great exercise for middle school kids: point out the obvious flaws with this study with regards to the scientific method. Social Sciences already were pseudo science/witchcraft. It's like they are trying to parody themselves now.

PDF warning? (1)

rasper99 (247555) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956701)

We used to get warnings when a link was a PDF. Thar could be danger thar maties!

Re:PDF warning? (1)

DaveGod (703167) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956829)

I think it is reasonable to consider that anyone who does not trust Adobe Reader is responsible for disabling it or installing an alternate reader.

Actually I wouldn't be surprised if the PDF-warning arose not in the interests of security, but from the days of dial-up internet and to advise it opens another application. Back in the day if there was a PDF to read I always used to download it as a file and then open it because Reader was a complete ass at trying to download pages as I was reading through it.

Happy Coincidence (5, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956709)

That the Univerity of Vermont researchers' methodology indicates that Vermont is among the happiest states.

Re:Happy Coincidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957675)

You have to bear in mind (speaking as a Vermonter) that a tweet like "OMG! I finally have service again!!! :)" will be marked as a happy tweet, while a tweet like "WTF?! No service? I hate my phone! :(" will not be marked because it won't be tweeted because, y'know, no service. This is likely to skew the stats for VT slightly in the positive direction.

tl;dr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42956727)

I'm curious how they overcame issues with local dialect. Meaning, how do you differentiate actual unhappiness from typical East Coast urban "this sucks" type banter.

Prison population (4, Interesting)

Dyinobal (1427207) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956731)

Louisiana has the largest prison population and is also the saddest place according to this study, coincidence?

Re:Prison population (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957269)

Yes, they're probably both caused by the same thing, but there's probably not a direct connection between the two. I'm not at all surprised by the South dominating the bottom five spots. The conservative hands off policies on regulation and unmotivated union busting tend not to correlate very well with quality of life.

Re:Prison population (1)

Bomazi (1875554) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957279)

Given that inmates don't have internet access, yes.

yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42956747)

:)

Another study finds... (4, Funny)

pesho (843750) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956749)

... that happy people do not use Twitter.

Re:Another study finds... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957771)

I hope you're right that unhappy people gravitate toward twitter. There are a ton of stupid people out there who are as miserable and outraged as their hate-radio masters tell them to be, and keep tweeting and retweeting hateful things that are absurdly untrue. I'd like to think they're just the miserable portion of their demographic and not representative of the whole.

Red states, Blue states (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42956751)

Anyone else find it interesting that, in general, red states (Republican) are mostly blue (unhappy) on the map, while blue states (Democrat) are mostly red (happy) on the map?

Re:Red states, Blue states (5, Insightful)

operagost (62405) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956905)

I would find it interesting if that were actually the case. You think that New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio are Republican-controlled states? And Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, and Florida are Democrat-controlled states? That's enough to take the words "general" out of it.

Re:Red states, Blue states (1)

asylumx (881307) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957251)

Depends if you're talking about the results of the last presidential election, or something else. Michigan, for example, often goes blue in statewide elections but ends up with heavy Republican leanings in their state house & senate.

kind of, but it should be obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42956947)

The happy-go-lucky crowd doesn't tend to worry. Others are looking toward the future with concern. Optimists vote Democrat, while pessimists vote Republican.

Re:kind of, but it should be obvious (0)

readin (838620) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957103)

That makes sense, especially given research that pessimists are generally more realistic in their appraisals.

Re:kind of, but it should be obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957355)

Realistic appraisals don't allow for risk-taking "dream" motivations that can allow people to jump ahead.

Pragmatism isn't the end-all be-all. It's important - it's just the ultimate solution or outlook.

Re:Red states, Blue states (3, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956975)

The republicans enjoy making angry tweets. They are just as happy, but the data analysis does not understand them.

Re:Red states, Blue states (3, Funny)

asylumx (881307) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957261)

The republicans enjoy making angry tweets. They are just as happy, but the data analysis does not understand them.

That's odd, they don't tend to understand data very well, either.

Re:Red states, Blue states (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42956991)

I find it more interesting that people turn whole states into binary inkblots to support whatever world view they have.

Re:Red states, Blue states (0)

readin (838620) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957079)

Anyone else find it interesting that, in general, red states (Republican) are mostly blue (unhappy) on the map, while blue states (Democrat) are mostly red (happy) on the map?

It should be unsurprising that conservative states are unhappier given that they value freedom and they see freedom shrinking. So much of what they see is good is under attack from the government and from the everpresent media. That's why so many turn to Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. It's not that they really believe Rush Limbaugh is a genius or that Fox News is "fair and balanced", its just being sick and tired of all the ridicule and nonsense on all the supposedly centrist news outlets.

When was the last time the government moved in a conservative direction (as opposed to merely slowing its march to the left)? It hasn't happened in my lifetime. And given the near monopoly the left has on the mainstream opinion-making I see no hope for it happening anytime soon.



On a side note, that "red-state blue-state" thing is yet another thing to be unhappy about. Blue has traditionally been associated with conservatives while red has been associated with leftists. The reversal is quite confusing.

Re:Red states, Blue states (1, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957347)

Conservatives don't value freedom. During the Bush administration, we lost a ton of freedom, especially during the period where the GOP controlled everything. The only thing that temporarily arrested the slide was that Bush managed to piss off SCOTUS enough that they started to say no.

Conservatives value certain freedoms like the 2nd amendment, but are pretty hostile towards the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 14th amendments.

Re:Red states, Blue states (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957257)

That's not really the relevant correlation, because as a sibling poster points out, that doesn't actually control for anything.

More interesting to me is happiness [slashdot.org] versus median household income [wikimedia.org] : There may be some sort of relationship between those two, but there appear to be some happy places that aren't rich and some rich places that aren't happy.

What about Tourism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42956769)

Hawaii has a lot of tourism and generally people are happy on vacation. Did they account for that?

automated? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956779)

I think this just means that Utah is the most sarcastic state.

Easy control for tourism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42956781)

You can control for the tourists in Hawaii by looking at their tweet timeline and only using tweets that are broadcast from Hawaii for a long period of time and not elsewhere before and after.

Anecdotal observation (2)

lewoot (1636471) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956807)

It seems to me that the more happy or optimistic a person is in their social network presence, the more troubled they seem to be IRL. Personally, when I'm happy, the last thing I think of doing is proving it to other people. Just my two cents.

Tourism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42956819)

Other than a brief mention in The Atlantic article, it looks like tourism wasn't really taken into account. I'd be interested in seeing if Hawaii still is the happiest state when you eliminate all the tweets that are from tourists and not natives or long term residents. At least eliminate all of the "Just got off the plane in Hawaii so happy to be on vacation woo lol" or whatever.

On the flip side, I can easily see Beaumont as a sad city if people driving through stop there for gas before entering Louisiana (a wise move) and while the pump is running they tweet that Beaumont is an ugly shithole and then move on. That's not really fair to Beaumont though as its residents are the ones who have truly earned the right to berate it.

TLDR, find a way to present this mostly from natives or long term residents and it'll actually be interesting.

Not enough resolution, not enough countries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42956821)

So we still don't know if Walt Disney World really is the Happiest Place On Earth.

Twitter, seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42956833)

The only people who use Twitter are bored, uneducated malcontents. I wouldn't shake hands with anyone who's got a Twitter account.

Congratulations! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42956847)

To the stupidest article to ever be posted on Slashdot, ever.

Hot, Cold, Vice, Virtue (4, Interesting)

Bob9113 (14996) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956855)

Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Utah

Hot, cold, vice, and virtue.

Re:Hot, Cold, Vice, Virtue (2)

tanujt (1909206) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956901)

Virtue?

Re:Hot, Cold, Vice, Virtue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957161)

I think a better way of putting it would be Hot, Cold, "vice", "virtue".

Re:Hot, Cold, Vice, Virtue (3, Informative)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957431)

Utah is commonly associated with Mormonism, which is generally considered to have followers who are rather courteous and virtuous, if a bit annoying with their missionaries knocking on doors.

maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42956881)

if some of those southern states were 'blue' at election time, they'd be 'blue' in this study?

captcha: grinning

(not happy here -- have a moron named walker in the state house screwing everything up)

Re:maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957315)

Madison: 78 square miles surrounded by reality.

Delaware (1)

Mystakaphoros (2664209) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956893)

In Delaware, we're all just looking for the exit to the parking lot.

More datamining nonsense (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956899)

The study just did a search for specific words, tabulated the results, and said that because happy words mean happy posters and unhappy words (and swear words) mean unhappy people, that their study was a study on happiness.

Complete bullshit. I have yet to even see a study that determines what percentage of happy words correlate with an actually happy post (Classic example: "Steak overdone. Not happy"), and extrapolate from there to overall numbers. Instead, it's just some people making shit up so that they can sell their tools to executives who are looking for some numbers.

This is nothing but a complete waste of time, and of money.

Re:More datamining nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42956953)

You seem fairly certain even without looking at any of the criteria used in this study. Let me guess, Louisiana?

Re:More datamining nonsense (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957067)

It says so right in the paper. It uses pre-assigned scores for specific words, tabulates the words, runs a basic normalization function on the words, and presto! Paper.

This is nonsense on multiple levels.

I pocket tweet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42956935)

... as the inside of my pants is my happy place.

Of course the south is sad (0, Troll)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956937)

There's a black president. Depression and anger must be at an all time high in the south. Hawaii is so far from all the bullshit that it's no wonder they're the happiest.

depression pills (0)

Twillerror (536681) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956979)

Seems like an easier data set to parse and a bit more truthful. You can tweet how happy you are, but at the end of the day your taking pills for depression your are not(of course excluding certain medical conditions). L.A. and other areas might be exposed for people seeming to be happy, but ultimately not.

Does not match up well with Gallup (3, Interesting)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year and a half ago | (#42956997)

Gallup does a "well-being" poll (the factors they use to determine "well-being" correlate pretty well with happiness). While the Gallup poll [gallup.com] agrees that Hawaii is the "happiest", the rest of their poll comes out significantly different. For example, the Twit survey from this article has Florida as above the median for happiness, the Gallup poll has them third from the bottom. Another example, this Twit poll puts Maryland near the bottom, while Gallup puts it near the top. The real problem with the Twit survey is that states that are vacation destinations will have a disproportionate representation of people who are not involved in their daily grind. I suspect That not only are people who are on vacation more likely to be happy, those that are Twits probably tweet more while on vacation.

Re:Does not match up well with Gallup (1)

asylumx (881307) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957291)

That said, you typically vacation to placed that make you happy. Therefore these places were probably "happy places" before the tweeters decided to vacation there. Chicken vs egg.

Re:Does not match up well with Gallup (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957503)

Except that according to the Gallup poll several of them do not show up as happy places.

Re:Does not match up well with Gallup (1)

Princeofcups (150855) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957479)

Gallup does a "well-being" poll (the factors they use to determine "well-being" correlate pretty well with happiness). While the Gallup poll [gallup.com] agrees that Hawaii is the "happiest", the rest of their poll comes out significantly different. For example, the Twit survey from this article has Florida as above the median for happiness, the Gallup poll has them third from the bottom.

This is a study of the happiness of technically savvy people. As cheap and ubiquitous as cell phones are, Florida is full of people who live outside the cities and couldn't care less about twitter. The Gallup poll would, in theory, include those people. And from the sound of it, they are not very happy individuals. :-)

Vacation spots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957111)

As the summary points out many of the happy areas are vacation spots. Hawaii, Nevada and Maine are all popular vacation destinations, the same applies to Floria, which would explain why it is ranked higher than the surrounding states.

Eat more Spam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957155)

Hawaiians consume more Spam than any other state in the Union
Hawaiians are the happiest state
If you want to be happy, EAT MORE SPAM

Happiest Parts of the United States? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957157)

the five saddest are Louisiana, Mississippi, Maryland, Delaware and Georgia

Nope. Since the above states have happiness values above the "indifferent" value of 4.5 (scale is from 1-9), they are not the saddest - they are merely less happy. Probably because they aren't Texas.

I'm not using twitter... (1)

hugortega (721079) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957173)

so, am I on an undefined happiness state? I don't use facebook neither... so, am I a terrorist? ... according to many recent "studies".

Not Hawaii (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957187)

As a resident of Hawaii, I know that this cannot be right. Hawaii is so expensive that too many people have to work overtime and/or two or three jobs just to make ends meet. Also, unless you love the ocean and/or nature, there is little to do here.

Financial hardship, cost of living, boredom, incompetent politicians, oppression of the native people, and exploitation of the blue collar workers make this anything but the happiest state.

I believe that the results are skewed. "LOL" is too superficial to be counted as an indicator of happiness. And, "Rainbow" in Hawaii refers to the athletic program and all of the sports teams of the Univ of Hawaii system. The word "rainbow" would be used an inordinate number of times in Hawaii.

Re:Not Hawaii (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957567)

Have you never seen anyone visit HI? Tourists may well prefer a short stay in HI to a long one in KS, resulting in that one person posting more positively from HI than KS. Repeat for all tourists and tell me if you see a pattern.

Lithium In Drinking Water (1)

James Sneed (2846661) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957265)

I wonder if the amount of lithium in the drinking water correlates with this data? Just curious if the states that are happy in general have higher trace amounts of lithium in the drinking water supply. I know in the past studies have shown suicide rates have been correlated to the amount of lithium in drinking water so I think it does make a valid question if it correlates to happiness in general. http://www.ij-healthgeographics.com/content/11/1/19 [ij-healthgeographics.com]

I'll save you some troubls (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957473)

Don't bother. They looked at 10 million whole tweets (out of a population of 300million) and counted 'happy words' like rainbow, love, beauty, hope, wonderful, wine vs. "sad words" like damn, boo, ugly, smoke, hate, lied. The 'happy' or 'sad' status of words was determined by asking mechanical turk workers.

Higher Resolution Heatmap please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957505)

I would love to see a more detailed breakdown than just which state these tweets take place in, down to county lines maybe. At that point the heat map would be real interesting to juxtapose with data from other sources. Ex: Which areas voted for who in November's election.

More people = sad people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957559)

Other than the tourist states (CA, FL, HI) it seems to really correlate with the census population density map... could it be that other people make people sad?

Let me guess (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957747)

This "happy map" correlates with "twitter user-base map"?

Range of the report (1)

arekin (2605525) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957753)

even though it is a 1-9 scale the range of this report is really 5.85 to about 6.15 (about .3). So really happy vs sad is really not a huge difference.

awful study (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957965)

1) only measures twitter users. are twitter users a fair measure of a population? i would assert NO. twitter users are likely to be more technically literate than average, and _may_ have an aggregate political tilt to the right or left. This should be measured before assuming twitter could represent a state.

2) study looked at and assigned emotional value to works. one would expect this to have some degree of validity in the assessors home culture, but as culture and language usage shift (a known phenomenon), these value assignments will drift - people may in some place use the word "hate" when they are happy, just the way language works there ("bad" when i was a kid was good in some subcultures, for example).

3) as mentioned by numerous other posters, need to account for local vs vacationing

Interesting geography (1)

mu51c10rd (187182) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958037)

So the happiest places are the Rocky Mountains, the northern New England states, and Hawaii? Glad I live in the Rockies...

Well of course you know... (1)

Anarchduke (1551707) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958039)

The happiest place in the United States doesn't have Twitter.

Other data more interesting (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958061)

Methodology aside, the state happiness levels are actually the most dull aspect of this. Far more interesting are the correlations to certain words, obesity, and especially the supplemental data [uvm.edu] on other traits. Not necessarily anything surprising but definitely more interesting.

Highest correlation with being happy? Being white.
Highest correlation for being sad? Being black.
The word "cafe" is correlated with percentage of the population having a Bachelor's degree.
"Cafe," "sushi," and "brewery" are the top food-related words correlating negatively with obesity.

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