According to a Wired Science article titled, “Twitter-Mining Captures Global Mood Patterns,” social scientists have discovered that individuals tend to display mood patterns throughout the day using tweets and other forms of social media, providing further evidence that moods positively and negatively cycle throughout the week, especially for anyone in the workplace.
Ever heard of the afternoon slump? When the clock rolls around two or three and you begin to feel tired and cranky? Can’t wait until Friday? Tweets reveal you’re not alone. The article explains, “An analysis of mood patterns distilled from half a billion tweets has produced a civilization-scale picture of how moods rise and fall in tandem, over time and across the world. The details seem intuitive: positive feelings peaking in the morning, dipping during work and rising at day’s end; negativity accumulated over the workweek dissipating late on Friday afternoon. But they’ve proved surprisingly tricky to measure.”
But do these results really mean that social scientists can count on something as simple as a tweet for this kind of analysis? “‘There’s a whole generation of lab work that’s been inconclusive,’ said sociologist Scott Golder of Cornell University, co-author of the tweet analysis published Sept. 29 in Science. ‘Every study would have something different to say about what they saw in their subjects’ affective rhythms.’ Many studies of how moods — or, more technically, positive and negative affect — change from minute to minute and day to day rely on self-reported surveys, which can be inconsistent if not misleading. The subjects of these studies also tend to be undergraduate students from western colleges, a group that’s not always representative of humanity at large. Twitter users, of course, don’t represent humanity either. But the culture- and globe-spanning size of the software platform’s community, and their constant generation of data that can be cross-referenced and correlated and otherwise computationally investigated, make them alluring to researchers. ‘Twitter and Facebook, market transactions on eBay and Amazon: This is the stuff of everyday life’ for much of the world, said Golder. ‘For a social scientist to have access to these records is a fantastic new opportunity.’”
So how can we understand what this means using a global approach and what does this mean to you and your employees? “Using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count, a text analysis program that quantifies the emotional content of statements, Golder and co-author Michael Macy analyzed a total of 509 million tweets generated over two years by 2.4 million people in 84 countries. The resulting trends — positive moods starting high in the morning and declining through the day, peaking overall on weekends — held steady around the world.” Essentially, everything that you might feel during the day and the week- your desire to take an afternoon nap or your excitement over the prospect of spending a weekend doing anything but work- most others around you are feeling as well. If you’re a manager or supervisor, understand that if some of those feelings start to creep up on you, chances are your employees are feeling the same way. As the article reiterates, “A systematic daily pattern of positive mood is a fundamental part of human existence.”
Right around mid-week your employees are tired, grumpy and just looking forward to clocking out on Friday and going home. It’s a pattern that you’ll see every day and every week; so if you’re wondering why your employees aren’t boasting a stellar performance at 2:30 in the afternoon, think back on the science of mood patterns. If this is the case, it also might not hurt to incorporate some unique ways to boost morale in the workplace, for not just your employees, but yourself as well. And if you can’t think of anything, refer back to a blog Alstin posted over the summer on “Keeping the creative juices flowing by getting creative.”