Can Twitter tell us where the happiest Americans live?

A Twitter survey has found that Denver is the happiest US city, based on the number of tweets containing positive messages. Is this a better approach for measuring happiness in a population? 

Lucas Jackson/File/Reuters
FILE PHOTO- The Twitter Happiness Repot was just released by the social media company Brandwatch. It found that the people of Denver, Colo. were the most positive tweeters.

If Twitter traffic can be any indicator of a person's level of happiness, then tweeters in Denver are the most joyful in the United States, followed closely by Los Angeles.

"The Twitter Happiness Report" was recently published by a social media evaluation firm named Brandwatch. They attempted to measure Twitter users emotions through their tweets.

According to the report, denizens of Denver had the most positive feelings over the course of a day, sending more than five positive tweets for every one negative one. Colorado in general had the second highest ratio of good days compared to bad days, only behind Georgia.

Regionally, Colorado and points westward had the highest number of positive tweets at 2.87 per negative tweet. The South was right on the West's heels at 2.75 positive tweets per negative one.

On the global scale, residents of Australia appear to be the happiest people on Twitter because they are three times more likely to tweet something positive for every one time they tweet something negative.

The report also found that men and women convey emotions in tweets differently as well. Men tweet something positive about their day 2.57 times per every one negative tweet, and women tweeted a positive remark about their day 1.94 times for every one negative tweet.

Women were more likely to use extreme language to describe their current state like, "love life" or "hate life," whereas men use a little more generic descriptors like "good day" or "bad day," when tweeting, according to the report.

“This report only scratches the surface of understanding the ways in which we express emotions online,” study leader James Lovejoy, content researcher at Brandwatch, told KDVR television in Denver. “Researching emotion presents a number of complex challenges. For example, this study can’t possibly identify the actual emotions that Twitter authors are experiencing or the extent to which they are experiencing it. However, we can be certain that behind every Tweet, post and conversation, there is some genuine emotion driving it.”

Measuring people’s level of happiness is an inexact science at best, but the annual Gallup and Healthways Well-Being Index conducted last year gives some credence to the notion that Coloradans are generally happy people.

According to the poll, 189 metropolitan areas were surveyed and that produced over 178,000 interviews with Americans. The categories for interviews were spread across six subsections and attempted to answer questions that related to topics like life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and access to basic necessities.

Boulder, Colo and Fort Collins, Colo. finished second and third respectively, only losing out to the Provo-Orem area in Utah. Denver finished 18th in the Gallup poll. California was the only other state to have three metropolitan areas in the top twenty.

On the other side of the coin, according to the Twitter Happiness Report, citizens of Louisville, Kentucky. and Fort Worth, Texas, were the most negative tweeters. Residents of Louisville and Fort Worth only tweeted something positive less than two-and-a-half times per every negative tweet.

The outpouring of negativity from these cities was not reflected in the bottom quintile of the Gallup poll representing cities whose residents had a host of issues with their quality of life. The most negative feedback for a metropolitan area came from the neighboring cities of Huntington, West Virginia, and Ashland, Kentucky.

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