Using Twitter to track people’s moods

An analysis of two years of tweets concludes, among other things, that people wake up happy but get grumpier as the day progresses.

 

There’s a lot you can read about on Twitter — including, it now appears, the patterns of human moods.

After analyzing two years’ worth of tweets by 2.4 million people around the world, researchers at Cornell Universityhave concluded that individuals wake up happy but that their mood deteriorates as the day progresses.

That discovery, among others reported Thursday in the journal Science, will interest researchers who are trying to understand how circadian rhythms and other natural influences shape our states of mind. But the study’s primary significance may have more to do with its methods than its results.

“We now have the ability to view societies at a massive scale using the Internet,” said study leader Scott Golder, a graduate student in sociology at Cornell. “This will open up opportunities for social scientists.”

Golder said he intended to use Twitter to study behavior, not emotion. He and a fellow graduate student wrote a computer program that sampled all Twitter user accounts created between February 2008 and April 2009, collecting up to 400 messages from each account.

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