Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Twitter Users Tend to Stay in Groups with the Same Mood as Them

Sorry for the lack of an update yesterday, folks, but I actually couldn't find a new story to cover. It was all old news, except for continuing coverage of the tragic events following the tsunami in Japan, which are outside my ability to handle. For more up-to-date information on relief efforts and the disaster itself, visit Google's excellent crisis center here.

As for what's going on in the world of positive psychology, Online Social Media reports that Twitter users group themselves together by mood. This information comes from a new study published in New Scientist, probably timed to coincide with Twitter's upcoming fifth anniversary.

This Cornell University study examined around 102,000 Twitter users over six months, totaling around 129 million tweets. The researchers analyzed words in the tweets to determine users' subjective wellbeing. They found that users of happy words tend to stick with other happy tweeters, and "unhappy" tweeters stay in their own groups.

Johann Bollen, main author of the study, says, "Beyond demographic features such as age, sex, and race, even psychological states such as 'loneliness' can be assortative in a social network." The research doesn't cover why this might be, but it seems that the old adage of "misery loves company" holds true, even in a massive, wide-open, semi-anonymous social network like Twitter.

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