UVM ‘happiness calculator’ research highlighted in popular Reply All podcast

A University of Vermont-led study on happiness just got another big callout.

In a recent episode of podcast Reply All, self described as “a podcast about the internet,” the show’s hosts spoke with UVM data scientist Peter Dodds to learn more about the “hedonometer,” a tool that he created alongside colleague Chris Danforth to measure and plot happiness, and other emotions, across the globe. 

Their primary data source: Twitter, specifically millions of tweets every day, measuring word choices.

“Our Hedonometer is based on people’s online expressions, capitalizing on data-rich social media, and we’re measuring how people present themselves to the outside world,” stated on the tool’s website.

The research is meant to measure emotions at the population-scale to provide information that could help policymakers. Overtime, the data has broadly gauged public mental health in response to trending topics across the globe.

Dodds and Danforth began the study in 2007, a year after Twitter’s launch, and now house their research through the university’s Computational Story Lab.  

A timeline of happiness, measured in “hedons,” based on Tweets provided to UVM news researchers Chris Danforth and Peter Dodds.

For more: UVM researchers find euphoria in Vermont

The Hedonometer additionally appeared in a New York Times article this month, revisiting Dodds and Danforth’s research in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Contact Ethan Bakuli at (802) 556-1804 or ebakuli@freepressmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @BakuliEthan.