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Study: Night owls send more negative tweets than early risers. A new study published in the Royal Society Open Science Journal is the first to focus on a series of relevant but overlooked comparisons in temporal patterns of emotional expression in tweets.

Tweets can provide valuable information about people’s social, cognitive, and biological processes, as well as their personal concerns. “The advent of social networking sites has fundamentally changed the way we communicate emotions,” said Dr. Lucas Bietti of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and Dr. Eric Meyer of the University of Newchatel and Basel.

Social media provides researchers with an unprecedented opportunity to track near real-time changes in widely expressed emotions over time and space. It can be used as an indicator of the general emotional state of a population, providing important information for the design and implementation of public health campaigns.

The researchers analyzed more than 7 million self-referenced tweets (personal pronoun + present tense verb: I am and its variations) collected from the most populous counties in the United States, and about 18 million topic-coded tweets.

They found that negative feelings were least mentioned around 8 a.m. and continued to increase throughout the day until midnight. By using emojis in their tweets, people were more likely to use them to portray negative feelings in the middle of the week, and less likely to use them on Sundays.

“We found that social, cognitive and biological processes, as well as personal concerns expressed in tweets, vary throughout the day and week, and such variations are associated with positive and negative emotions,” he said.

“We also observed that engagement with positive and negative emotions varied substantially throughout the day and less frequently throughout the week.”

“Understanding the temporal patterns of interaction with positive and negative emotions in tweets should contribute to the design of socio-technical systems, which aim to support the emotional well-being of people through social media platforms.”

“It will also promote a network of people who feel isolated.”

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