Tweets say Hawaii is happiest state

Posted by Ken Kola

Napa, California, is the US' happiest city, and Hawaii its happiest state. That's the conclusion of a research study from the University of Vermont, on the basis of the content of 10 million geotagged tweets.

The team ranked the tweets on the basis of the positive and negative words in them, aiming to examine the effect of urban life on residents' mood. And, they found, Hawaii is the cheeriest state, followed by Maine, Nevada, Utah and - very pleasantly for the researchers - Vermont.

All may not be as it seems, however: "Hawaii emerges as the happiest
state due to an abundance of relatively happy words such as ‘beach’ and food-related words, but also because of the presence of the word ‘hi’. This is most likely because of an increased use of Hawaii’s state code ‘HI’ in geotagged tweets, and will somewhat bias the results," warns the team.

At the other end of the scale came Louisiana, the most miserable, followed by Mississippi, Maryland, Michigan and Delaware. Louisiana, says the researchers, scored particularly badly because of its residents widespread use of profanity.

As for cities, Napa was followed by Longmont, Colorado; San Clemente, California; Santa Fe, New Mexico and Santa Cruz, California. Gloomiest were Beaumont, Texas; Albany, Georgia; Texas City, Texas; Shreveport, Louisiana and Monroe, Louisiana.

Interestingly, the cities with the highest density of tweets tended to be sadder.

"This suggests that cities with high technology adoption rates (as most geotagged tweets come from devices like smartphones) are in fact less happy than their less technological counterparts," says the report.

As the researchers admit, the study has its flaws - the 'Hi' factor being a case in point. But the team believes the technique has promise for future surveys, and is working to refine it.