Twitter Reveals Humanity’s Mood Swings

People everywhere tend to feel chipper at breakfast, get grumpier over the course of the day, and brighten again before going to bed. That is the central finding of a vast new study of Twitter users, which may be even more significant in establishing social-networking sites as “the foundation of a new social science,” Harvard University sociologist Nicholas A. Christakis tells The Washington Post.

Researchers at Cornell University tracked the changing moods of 2.4 million people in 84 countries over two years by analyzing their tweets. Using special software, they searched some half a billion posts for words that indicated positive feelings, like “awesome” and “fantastic,” or negative feelings, such as “panic” and “fear.”

When they graphed the results based on the timing of the posts, they discovered a universal daily pattern: Happiness peaks around breakfast, between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.; falls to a low between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.; and then rises to another high after dinner. The same trend holds true on weekends, when most people aren’t at work. The study, the first to track the emotions of so many people across cultures, suggests that innate biological rhythms play a big role in our moods.

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