Tag Archives: Hedonometer

hAPPiness: Twitter and iPhone to measure happiness

This guest post has been written by Sanne van der Beek. An earlier Dutch version of this article was published at the blog of Stadsleven, a monthly talk show about city life in Amsterdam. 

How do you measure something as subjective and diffuse as happiness? And: is it possible to determine what is the happiest place on the world? New technologies like Twitter and iPhone apps come the rescue. The Hedonometer for instance analyses the happiness levels from words in English tweets. In order to do so, the researchers have scored the 10,000 most used words from Google Books, articles in the New York Times, song lyrics and twitter messages on their happiness level. It won’t be a surprise that ‘laughter’ scores a lot higher than ‘killed’ or ‘bored’. Even words that are less closely linked to emotion have been ranked. ‘Rainbow’ takes home 8.06 out of 9; alcohol doesn’t get more than 5.2.

Source: Hedonometer.org

Source: Hedonometer.org

Hedonometer’s analysis of the US. Hawaii is the happiest state, Lousiana the least happy one.

Every day, Hedonomoter analyses the presence of these words in 50 million tweets from around the globe. Together, these tweets form a daily ‘happiness average‘. In this way, you can measure the happiest day of the year, or the average level of happiness per state.

Mappiness: the largest global happiness study through iPhone

Mappiness is a free iPhone app conducting the largest research on the influence of environment and community on human well-being ever. Since 2010, the app has been downloaded by almost 60,000 people. How does Mappiness work? At irregular intervals, the app asks you about your state of being. The app also wants to know  exactly where you are, and in whose company. The choice amongst forty options takes about twenty seconds, and must be made within one hour to be classified in the results. Initial results from the London School of Economics on the basis of over 3 million data points demonstrated that people are somewhat happier in nature, forests or at the coast than in urban environments.

Would you like to read more?

Sanne’s entire dossier (in Dutch) ahead of Stadsleven’s talk show on The Happy City can be found here.

I contributed an article on the lessons from Bhutan for the Happy City (English translation on my blog). After the event, I wrote a post about the conclusions of the panel: compactness, connections, trust and design are the winning factors for happy cities!

I do like Mondays

When I launched this blog, fourteen long days ago, I got many positive reactions. I’ve received many stories about happiness. They really make me happy, so please keep on sending them.

I was also requested to provide the option to subscribe to new posts. I’ll certainly do that with the rebranding in a couple of months. This is just the beta version. It’s like washing powder: you’ll get a new and improved version every couple of months. But to make it easier: my main blog posts will be published on Mondays.

Why Mondays? Well, I decided I do like Mondays. In principle, I attempt to leave my office at six and dedicate some part of my evening to cook a decent meal and write some lines on happiness. Having this set writing day disciplines and hopefully provides some clarity to my reader when it’s best to check this page.

Thinking about it, there is also a case to write about happiness on Mondays. With the weekend past and a long full working week ahead, you would think that a little of spark of happiness would be very welcome on Monday, right?

garfield_83_centerMondays are generally seen as the most depressing day of the week. Hate of Monday’s is everywhere, and was even at the origin of the Cleveland Elementary School shooting in 1979. In court, the perpetrator shockingly claimed “I don’t like Mondays. This lives up the day”. This is also how we got the Boomtown Rats song.

Pseudo scientists hired by a travel agency even have created a formula to determine ‘Blue Monday’, or the most depressing day of the year. As post-holiday season chubby thighs and bellies remain as the promising New Year resolutions on the new and improved version of yourself starts fading away, 21 January is sold as the best day to book a trip to the sun.

Whilst Blue Monday is a marketing stunt, there is some serious research on this topic. Somewhat disappointingly, studies contradict each other. With the exception of higher happiness levels on Fridays, this study by Ryan et al. does not find significant differences between Monday and other weekdays. The conclusion of Peter Dodds and Christopher Danforth’s amazing ‘Hedonometer’ however is different. In their research, they assess the emotional state of people as expressed in tweets and conclude that it is Wednesday, not Monday, that is the saddest day of the week.

Anyway. Less depressing or not, I am sticking with Mondays. But of course it’s up to you when to read this post. Whether you prefer a gloomy Monday, a depressing Wednesday or a happy Saturday, you’re always welcome.