A study performed by researchers at the University of Vermont analyzed over 10 million geotagged tweets from the microblogging website, Twitter, to find out the general mood of Americans. Data was collected from the 2011 calendar year.
According to the survey, the happiest state is Hawaii, a place with constant sun and surrounded by beautiful oceans. Following the Aloha State are Maine, Nevada, Utah and Vermont.
The rankings were based on list of 10,000 words that were scaled from 1 to 10 on the level of happiness. For example, “LOL” and “haha” were considered happy words. Other words like “good,” “nice,” “sleep,” “wine” and food or beach-related remarks were viewed as positive. “Rainbow” is one of the happiest words that could be used.
On the flip side, negative words like “mad,” “hate,” “no,” “boo,” “smoke,” “jail” and an assortment of curse words that are in George Carlin’s list of “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” According to the researchers, “earthquake” is one of the saddest words.
The saddest state is Louisiana. The study indicates that Louisiana residents’ propensity of using expletives in their tweets was the driving force behind their “sad state.” Close behind are Mississippi, Maryland, Delaware and Georgia.
Also examined in this research is the happiness of cities. 373 urban areas were ranked using the same criteria as the state rankings. Napa, Calif., known for its vineyards and wine-making, was placed in the top position of urban happiness. Beaumont, Texas was the saddest city on the survey.
One flaw with the survey, as indicated by journal The Atlantic, is the researchers’ disregard to look at tweets in Spanish. According to the US Census in 2010, there are over 37 million native Spanish speakers living in the US. By not including this population into the research, the results presented are biased.
Future studies by the research group will include census data from 2012 once the information becomes available.