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Social Media Used in Studies to Measure Daily Mood Swings

by | Oct 20, 2011 | Conditions and Disorders, Research

Home Conditions and Disorders Social Media Used in Studies to Measure Daily Mood Swings

Did you ever notice how your mood seems to shift throughout the day? Are you more positive in the morning versus the evening ….or do you find as the day progresses that your mood lightens? Interestingly enough our usage of social media or posts on social media sites may be shifting the way in which our mental states and behaviors are being analyzed – new projects have been put in place to gauge the ebb and flow of our daily moods.
The Journal of Science currently published a study where researches literally used “text analysis to track people’s daily mood fluctuations and patterns.” However there could be a hitch to focusing on what individuals post. According to several researches not participating in the research study, there is a bit of danger in focusing on what people are actually posting online – Dan Gilbert, a Harvard psychologist said ”Tweets may tell us more about what the tweeter thinks the follower wants to hear than about what the tweeter is actually feeling.” Basically nothing should be taken at face value.
The project headed by Cornell University is the first of its kind intersecting geographical as well as cultural confines drawing a parallel to biological patterns. Producing data drawn from evolving social media outlets is altering the basis of the social sciences. Studying the range of human behaviors through a wider more creative microscope is building enthusiasm among researchers, possibly allowing for a better understanding of periods of depression and the make-up of human psychology.
Two million people in 84 countries were used to collect the information needed to produce the study. Individuals’ tones indicated within their Twitter postings seemed to swing according to the time of day. Those who possibly showed signs of depression and a decline in mood appeared do so in the late afternoon. The early morning period posts displayed more positive attitudes that lifted again as many come close to their bedtime.
Seasonal patterns were analyzed, it was deduced that our moods are inclined to switch permitting biological rhythms of night and day as well as during the winter and summer phases of the year.
The project comprised of computer software calculating the degree of “positive” and “negative” moods by evaluating such words as “awesome”, “agree”, “annoy” and “afraid”. Strong patterns were displayed; people’s dispositions appeared to lift around the hours between the morning hours of six to nine. Low points were shown between the afternoon hours of three to four and elevating after the supper hour. It came as no surprise that the beginning of the work week seemed to be a low point for many subjects however attitudes improved near the end of the week.
All in all through new advances in the realm of the study of human psychology and the social sciences, the novel idea of tapping into people’s Facebook, Twitter and other such forms of online media outlets shall prove to be an interesting task. The technology of social media seems to be lending itself to the science of human behavior – working towards better understanding the human condition. The question is can it be a reliable form of assessing people’s vices, addictions or level of an individual’s mental state, whether it is depressive, manic or balanced? Only time will tell…..