Twitter Posts Used to Investigate Human Experience

January 18, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. tabulate / ˈtæb yəˌleɪt / (v.) – to arrange in a systematic form
Example: They had to tabulate the results of the study.

2. trend / trɛnd / (n.) – the general change in or direction of something
Example: The survey showed different trends in women’s fashion.

3. obligatory / əˈblɪg əˌtɔr i / (adj.) – required or needed
Example: Attendance in the event is encouraged but not obligatory.

4. profanity / prəˈfæn ɪ ti / (n.) – an impolite or offensive word
Example: The movie isn’t appropriate for kids because it uses profanity

5.  type / taɪp / (n.) – a set of people who share the same traits or characteristics
Example: The brainy types like hanging out in the library. 


Read the text below.
A new study attempts to learn more about the human experience through Twitter.

In November 2015, professors David Serfass and Ryne Sherman of Florida Atlantic University conducted research on the characteristics of situations that people experience. They collected over 20 million posts made in two weeks by over a million people using the social media site Twitter. They rated tweets using eight aspects: Duty, Intellect, Adversity (difficult situations), Mating (romantic relationships), Positivity, Negativity, Deception (betrayal), and Sociality. To tabulate the tweets, they used the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count computer tool.

Results revealed different trends based on what people posted on Twitter. People in obligatory situations—those under the category Duty—frequently used the words "work" and "job", while people under Adversity tended towards profanity. Most were more negative during the workweek and more positive during weekends. The intellectual types posted mostly motivational quotes, and shared thoughts and feelings. Women experienced more emotional situations, both positive and negative, than men.

The study is just the beginning in a new line of research that uses social media to understand human experience. Although the study is limited by eight categories, future studies can explore more situations like celebrations, athletic competitions, political disturbances, and even calamities.

A similar study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania investigated people's tweets in relation to their income levels. It showed that people with lower incomes generally used the site socially, such as to share links, while those with higher incomes used it to share information.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What do most people in your country use social media for?
·         Do you think people in your country reveal too much information about themselves on social media? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         What do you think are the kinds of information that people should not post on social media?
·         What are some positive and negative consequences of always posting on social media? 

January 18, 2016