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March 10, 2007

How Happiness Is Reflected in Blogs


Rada Mihalcea, from the University of North Texas, and Hugo Liu, from MIT, wrote last year an interesting paper [PDF] about happiness and the way it's reflected in blogs.

From the abstract: "What are the sources of happiness and sadness in everyday life? In this paper, we employ 'linguistic ethnography' to seek out where happiness lies in our everyday lives by considering a corpus of blogposts from the LiveJournal community annotated with happy and sad moods. By analyzing this corpus, we derive lists of happy and sad words and phrases annotated by their 'happiness factor.'".

LiveJournal, which is mostly popular in the US, lets you annotate your post with a mood and this made things easier.

This chart shows the happiness factor in a day and for each day of the week, measured by looking at the distribution of the most popular "happy" words ("yay", "shopping", "awesome", "birthday", "lovely", "concert", etc.):


Saturday seems to be the happiest day for LiveJournal bloggers, while the night is the happiest time of the day. Some of the most frequent contexts associated with happiness are talking about birthday or about something new, while the sad contexts are more human-centered and use verbs like "wish", "hate", "miss".

The paper also offers a recipe for happiness:
Ingredients
- Something new
- Lots of food that you enjoy
- Your favorite drink
- An interesting social place

Directions
Go shop for something new – something cool, make sure that you love it. Then have lots of food, for dinner preferably, as the times of breakfast and lunch are to be avoided. Consider also including a new, hot taste, and one of your favorite drinks. Then go to an interesting place, it could be a movie, a concert, a party, or any other social place. Having fun, and optionally getting drunk, is also part of the recipe. Note that you should avoid any unnecessary actions, as they can occasionally trigger feelings of unhappiness. Ideally the recipe should be served on a Saturday, for maximum happiness effect. If all this happens on your birthday, even better. Bon app├ętit!

{ via eLearningBlog }

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