Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Happiness Is a (Fill in the Blank)

Woke up this morning to pick up our hometown daily, the Burlington Free Press, and find a terrific front-page article about my husband's research by Tim Johnson.

As Johnson writes, "these are heady times for numbers crunchers" -- the amount of text and data available now allows researchers like my husband and Chris Danforth, his colleague at University of Vermont, the ability to mine for trends, influence and even the spread of ideas. Peter and Chris examined the happiness levels in blogs, song lyrics, and State of the Union addresses. (Who was the most happy president? JFK beat out Reagan, believe it or not.)

A lot of the press coverage of their paper, published in the Journal of Happiness (love that name), has focused on their findings that sentiment in blogs fell to their lowest level on the days following Michael Jackson's death. Meanwhile, Jackson's song lyrics rate as some of the happiest tunes out there.