Weather dictates social media moods: Research

Behaviour, moods, mood swings, Weather, weather report, Social Media, social media behavior, Facebok, Twitter, Social media posts, Siri, Alexa, research 

Do you feel lazy when it is raining outside or sad when the winters descends on your city? Does Autumn makes you feel like going out and exploring the world? Does Spring make you want to stay outdoors all day? If the answer is ‘yes’ and if you have been wondering why your tweets during the peak Summer period are always angsty, there is no need for speculations. The scientific answer is out. A recent study has found that when the weather conditions are good, we are happier on social network.

The research was carried out at Universidad Carlos III De Madrid.

“Our study is the first to observe and measure the relationship between good weather and frame of mind using billions of posts on Twitter and Facebook in 75 metropolitan areas of the USA,” said Esteban Moro, a well-known researcher at the institute.

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The study analyzed more than 3.5 billion social media posts, mostly from Facebook, with a standard protocol that uses a list of words that are associated with positive and negative emotions.

While the findings were always among widespread popular belief, but, till now no such scientific study had been conducted to statistically conclude if it was true.

“We find that how we express ourselves is shaped by the weather outside. Adverse weather conditions – hot and cold temperatures, precipitation, added humidity and increased cloud cover – reduces the sentiment of human expressions across billions of social media posts drawn from millions of US residents”, said another researcher, Nick Obradovich.

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To examine the association between weather conditions and expressed sentiments, the authors of the present study gathered 2.4 billion posts from Facebook and 1.1 billion from Twitter between the years 2009 and 2016.

They analyzed the sentiment for each post using a special tool that categorizes posts based on keywords as positive or negative. To do this, they took account of the number of positive and negative words shared in the users’ posts and compared the results with the daily meteorological data for each location.

In general, people use more “happy” words in their social media posts when the temperature outside is over 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and ideally between 68 and 77 degrees.

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“The size of this effect is so significant that it could be placed in the same order of magnitude as the change of mood that occurs on social networks following events such as the earthquake in California in August 2014 or the San Bernardino shooting of December 2015, in which more than fourteen people were killed and twenty wounded”, said Esteban Moro.

The results obtained by the researchers could be used to anticipate what the effect of tomorrow’s weather will be on people’s frame of mind and thus to modify advertising campaigns, for example.

It could also enable content providers to publish news in accordance with the emotional state of their audience or certain personal assistance systems, such as Alexa or Siri, to use this data in order to better tailor their messages to the needs of the user. Not to mention that if weather conditions worsen in the future, it may mean that our mood will also worsen.

The study has been published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

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