After parsing the results from a recent University of Vermont study of geotagged tweets, the Huffington Post has compiled a map showing just how happy — or unhappy — Americans are according to the state they live in.
The numbers you see in the above graphic were derived by scoring more than 10,000 words on a positive-negative scale and measuring their frequency in millions of tweets across the United States.
Context was deliberately ignored to eliminate experimental bias, as were tweets from out-of-towners and/or tourists (which may explain why Hawaii rocked the list!).
Katy Hall and Jan Diehm explain their map and the 'word happiness score':
What emerged was significant regional variation in happiness by this calculation, which correlates with other lifestyle measures such as gun violence, obesity and Gallup's traditional wellbeing survey. A sadness belt across the South includes states that have high levels of poverty and the shortest life expectancies.
Geography is, of course, just one predictor of moods expressed on Twitter. The researchers also used their "hedonometer" to look at daily happiness averages over the past few years — and the peaks (holidays, especially Christmas) and valleys (tragedies including the Newtown shooting and Boston Marathon bombing) are not surprising.
It turns out that Louisiana is the saddest state. "Socioeconomic factors that influence happiness in the U.S., such as poverty, unemployment and government resources, also account for some of the variation in life satisfaction levels in countries around the world," write Hall and Diehm.
Be sure to head on over to the HuffPo article to learn more — and to see how the U.S. stacks up with the rest of the world on the Life Satisfaction Index.