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Peter Dodds: Health, Happiness, and Hahaha

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Dr. Peter Dodds, Associate Professor of Mathematics and Statistics, and Director of the Complex Systems Center, UVM, provides motivation for measuring well-being online through non-invasive observation, as a complement to traditional survey methods, and outlines recent `big data' efforts that have extracted emotional content from written expression. He reports in particular on a real-time, remote-sensing, non-invasive, text-based approach, which has been used to uncover collective dynamical patterns of happiness as expressed in the global social network Twitter, song lyrics, blogs, political speeches, and news sources. He discusses global levels of temporal, spatial, demographic, and social variations in happiness and information levels, as well as evidence of emotional synchrony and contagion. He employs a particular graphical method to show how individual words contribute to changes in average happiness between any two texts. Finally, he discusses how natural language appears to contain a frequency-independent positive bias, and how this connects to collective cooperation and evolution.

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