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The Sun has got his hat on, hip-hip-hip hurray!

30 September 2011
by Patrick Love

Woke up this mornin'. Felt Gr8.

In a new report that may force a major rethink of the entire field of well-being studies, researchers have discovered that people are happier at the weekend.

Writing in this week’s edition of Science magazine, Scott A. Golder and Michael W. Macy, sociologists (in case you hadn’t guessed) at Cornell University also claim their results suggest “that people awaken later on weekends”.

They analysed 500 million tweets in English (lol) from 2.4 million people in 84 countries looking for keywords that indicated mood and a positive or negative attitude.

They also found that positive attitudes peak just after getting up and dip a few hours later, weekend or not, so it’s not just because you have to deal with the stresses of getting to work and earning your living. Circadian rhythms are important too.

It’s easy to mock the findings (see above) although maybe the OECD is not best placed to do so. Remember our revelation about men doing less housework and childcare activities than women? (“Gosh, I hadn’t realised” said a mother of three I spoke to).

What’s interesting is the use of social media to explore behaviour and attitudes. There are limits of course. Tweets show what people are expressing, not necessarily what they’re really feeling, and give little or no information on many factors that influence mood such as social situation.

We’re carrying out an experiment here too. Your Better Life Index allows you to construct an index of what matters to you – whether health is relatively more important than wealth for instance. Governments can use the results to see if what they’re doing or proposing actually corresponds to what matters to citizens.

Over half a million people have already visited the site. You can make you own Better Life Index and share it on social media by clicking on the image below.

Useful links

OECD Social Indicators offers a concise overview of quantitative social trends and policies across the OECD. This 2011 edition includes a wide range of information on social issues – such as demography and family characteristics, employment and unemployment, poverty and inequality, social and health care expenditure, and trust and tolerance. 

As well as the original data, you can download special chapters, including one on unpaid work around the world.

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