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New map reveals personality traits of communities across the United States

"By analyzing social media, we can get unexpected, in-depth insights into the processes that drive happiness and illness," said researcher Anneke Buffone.

By
Brooks Hays
The new interactive map features health, wellness and personality trait data gleaned from more than 37 billion tweets. Photo by University of Pennsylvania
The new interactive map features health, wellness and personality trait data gleaned from more than 37 billion tweets. Photo by University of Pennsylvania

July 5 (UPI) -- Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have created a new interactive map revealing the well-being and personality traits of communities across the United States.

The map is the culmination of five years of compiling and analyzing Twitter data. Researchers mined more than 37 billion publicly shared, geo-tagged tweets for evidence of personality traits like openness and extraversion.

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Researchers reinforced the Twitter analysis with government-reported socioeconomic and health data like rates of unemployment and heart-disease mortality. Scientists organized the information for further analysis and comparisons using county boundaries.

The newly published map is the grand finale of the World Well-Being Project.

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"The World Well-Being Project was established on the idea that we can measure psychological states of large populations in real time by analyzing their social media content," project co-founder Johannes Eichstaedt, a Penn postdoctoral fellow, said in a news release. "To get here, we collected huge data sets, built language-based prediction models, ran those models over tweets and demographic information and extracted language patterns associated with specific traits."

Researchers hope other social scientists, as well as lay people, will use the map to explore and investigate the diversity of personality traits across American communities.

"I hope people will just want to play around with it. If I were considering moving somewhere in the U.S., I would want to know how happy people are there," said Lyle Ungar, project co-founder and Penn professor. "County-level psychological profiles are really, really important. What people are like in different areas affects economic and health outcomes as well as happiness."

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The map could help governments, businesses and other organizations more effectively deploy resources to places where they are most needed.

Identifying places were heart disease and diabetes are most concentrated can help policy makers deploy exercise and other health and wellness programs in the right areas.

"We're looking for areas where we, as a country, can do better," said Anneke Buffone, WWBP's lead research scientist. "By analyzing social media, we can get unexpected, in-depth insights into the processes that drive happiness and illness."

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