Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Happiness Meter

PostedAugust 9, 2009

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Randy Atkins: Polling people about how happy they are can be artificial.  So Chris Danforth, a University of Vermont applied mathematician, is gathering people’s feelings when they don’t even know it…from Twitter posts.

Chris Danforth: We get roughly a million a day or a thousand every minute, and then we have a program that looks for trends inside those messages.

Randy Atkins: Danforth targets words that have been ranked on a happiness scale by other research…and thinks what he finds could even help reverse-engineer public policies.

Chris Danforth: The nice thing about these Twitter messages is you have not just a message, the time stamp, sometimes where they posted from, but you have information about what messages they receive.

Randy Atkins: So the findings may show how happiness spreads.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, 103-point-5 F-M and WTOP-dot-com.



  • Danforth's research colleague Peter Dodds
  • A University of Vermont news release about their research
  • A University of Florida study ranking words for happiness