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Twitter Reflects World's Changing Moods
Date:9/30/2011

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Using Twitter to track people's moods from every corner of the globe, new research suggests that folks seem to awaken in good cheer and get grumpier as the workday progresses, regardless of where they live.

The novel study by Cornell University social scientists monitored the attitudes of 2.4 million people in 84 countries over two years, finding that work, sleep and amount of daylight help shape cyclical emotions such as delight, distress, enthusiasm and anger. Two daily peaks of positive attitudes recorded by "tweets" on the social networking website -- in early morning and near midnight -- indicated that work-related stress may also play a role in mood, the study authors said.

"Not a large proportion of sociologists see the Internet as being a source of social science data, but I really think it's a playground for the social sciences," said study co-author Scott Golder, a doctoral student in sociology. "For generations, social scientists have wanted to know how entire societies work, or how relationships patterned over time, which are all hard to do [on a large] scale. That proved extraordinarily difficult until the Internet."

The study is published Sept. 29 in the journal Science.

Tracking tweets with language monitoring software, Golder and co-author Michael Macy, a professor of sociology, observed that positive tweets were more abundant on weekends -- and delayed by two hours, suggesting people slept later -- whether the weekend was defined as Saturday and Sunday or another two-day stretch. For example, the traditional work week in the United Arab Emirates runs from Sunday through Thursday, where positive tweets and late-morning mood peaks were more prevalent on Fridays and Saturdays.

The 509 million tweets used in the study were sorted to gauge "positive affect" such as alertness, enthusiasm or activeness, or
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