Cornell University’s researchers monitored the moods of 2.4 million people in 84 countries over two years, publishing results in the journal Science. Their conclusions indicate that work, sleep and amount of daylight influence cyclical emotions such as delight, distress, enthusiasm and anger. There are two daily peaks of positive attitudes recorded by “tweets”: early morning and near midnight, indicating that work-related stress plays a role in mood.

“Not a large proportion of sociologists see the Internet as being a source of social science data, but I really think it’s a playground for the social sciences,” said study co-author Scott Golder. “For generations, social scientists have wanted to know how entire societies work, or how relationships patterned over time, which are all hard to do on a large scale. That proved extraordinarily difficult until the Internet.”

“We see the same daily rhythm across seven days, which suggests something more fundamental going on, such as biological or circadian rhythms,” Golder said. “We also saw the same basic pattern all across the globe. We are all human beings and subject to [the] same psychological factors, we’re all refreshed by sleep, and this is something that is just part of us.”

Golder said the study participants aren’t a random sample, since Twitter users tend to be younger, highly educated and slightly more affluent. “It’s important to remember that even though the Internet is largely mainstream, large groups don’t have access to it or use certain aspects of it,” he said. “And we’re only measuring what people tweet about.”

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