Under the Weather? How social media sentiments reflect weather patterns

Under the Weather? How social media sentiments reflect weather patterns

Grey skies getting you down? Research suggests that weather may impact our emotional state. But in a new PLOS ONE study, Patrick Baylis from the University of British Columbia, Nick Obradovich from MIT, and colleagues wanted to find out if specific weather conditions are associated with the positive or negative feelings expressed via social media.

The researchers gathered 2.4 billion posts from Facebook and 1.1 billion from Twitter between 2009 and 2016. They used a categorization tool to analyze the sentiment for each post based on its positive and negative keywords. They also examined weather data for the location and date of each post to look for any associations.

The scientists found that sentiments expressed on social media were strongly associated with certain weather conditions. Perhaps unsurprisingly, rainy, humid and cloudy days were associated with expression of negative sentiments. Temperature was also important: expression of positive sentiments increased with temperature up to 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit), but declined once the temperature surpassed 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).

The sentiment analysis tool is imperfect, and it’s difficult to draw conclusions about how people actually feel from the sentiments they express via social media. Nonetheless, this study may provide insight into how different weather conditions affect our emotions. Just another reason to hope for sunny skies!

Research Article: Baylis P, Obradovich N, Kryvasheyeu Y, Chen H, Coviello L, Moro E, et al. (2018) Weather impacts expressed sentiment. PLoS ONE 13(4): e0195750. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0195750

Image Credit: Kieran Clarke, Flickr


Beth works at PLOS as Journal Media Manager. She read Natural Sciences, specializing in Pathology, at the University of Cambridge before joining PLOS in 2013. She feels fortunate to be able to read and write about the exciting new research published by PLOS.

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