Government Technology

Can Twitter Help Gauge Community Well-Being?



New study shows link between community well-being and Twitter

July 22, 2013 By

Is your community happy or unhappy? Some researchers say Twitter may have the answer.

A study released by a group of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Michigan State University states that language analysis used on Twitter can help determine a city’s overall well-being.

Why? "Tweeting is pervasive across the U.S.," according to the researchers. "And, unlike responses to surveys, tweets are not constrained to pre-chosen questions."

Using millions of tweets across the U.S. that had geo-location information, the researchers built a model of language that predicts well-being, and Twitter was an effective tool for significantly predicting such. In addition, the combination of Twitter language and socioeconomic information was more predictive than socioeconomic information on its own. 

“What are tweets capturing about well-being?” the researchers wrote in a blog post about the report. “We didn’t want to just wind up with a happiness score, so the bulk of our work looked into this question by observing the actual words people use in regions with differing levels of life satisfaction.”

Words used on Twitter were grouped into a series of topics that more closely correlates to positive well-being as well as negative well-being.

The map developed from the study, pictured below, shows the life satisfaction of counties across the United States. Green regions have higher satisfaction, while red have lower.

Happiness+in+the+U.S.+based+on+Twitter


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