Twitter and happiness: you’ve probably heard the adage “birds of a feather flock together.” A new research paper with the catchy title, “Happiness is assortative in online social networks,” has found another example of this maxim.

The paper says that people who use Twitter congregate online according to their mood, not just by age or similar interests. For example, the research, which was led by Johan Bollen of the University of Indiana, found that people who send Twitter messages that include the word “loneliness” also tend to flock together on Twitter.

To understand how mood plays a role in the camaraderie of people on social networks, Mr. Bollen and his team monitored 102,009 active Twitter users for six months. The researchers then applied a psychology theory, “subjective well-being,” to each message to understand its mood.

The results found that people who are happier on the social network tend to re-tweet or reply to others who are happy, too. The same results were found with those who were unhappy.

The researchers summarized that “online social networks may be equally subject to the social mechanisms” that govern the real world, where real-life interaction can revolve around mood and feeling, too.


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