Melbourne/Washington, January 22: Australian researchers have discovered how social media can serve as an indicator of a community’s psychological well being and can predict rates of heart disease. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Melbourne, Australia, demonstrated that micro–blogging site Twitter can capture more information about heart disease risk than many traditiol factors combined as it also characterises the psychological atmosphere of a community.
They found that expressions of negative emotions such as anger, stress and fatigue in a county’s tweets were associated with higher heart disease risk. On the other hand, positive emotions like excitement and optimism were associated with lower risk.
“The relationship between language and mortality is particularly surprising since the people tweeting angry words and topics are in general not the ones dying of heart disease. This means if many of your neighbours are angry, you are more likely to die of heart disease,” said Andrew Schwartz, visiting assistant professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Penn.
Drawing on a set of public tweets made between 2009 and 2010, the researchers used established emotiol dictiories to alyse a random sample of tweets from individuals who had made their locations available. There were enough tweets and health data from about 1,300 counties, which contain 88 percent of the country’s population. As there is no way to directly measure people’s inner emotiol lives, the team drew on traditions in psychological research that glean this information from the words people use when speaking or writing. (IANS)