This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.
This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.
LOL: Californians Are Pretty Happy, According to Twitter
It seems we on the left coast do fit the stereotype for generally happy people, perhaps influenced by wine consumption, at least in how we express ourselves on Twitter.
10 million Tweets were analyzed by the Vermont Complex Systems Center, who produced what they call a "hedonometer" that indexes how happy or sad the 50 states are.
The Atlantic breaks down how this was done:
The researchers coded each tweet for its happiness content, based on the appearance and frequency of words determined by Mechanical Turk workers to be happy (rainbow, love, beauty, hope, wonderful, wine) or sad (damn, boo, ugly, smoke, hate, lied). While the researchers admit their technique ignores context, they say that for large datasets, simply counting the words and averaging their happiness content produces "reliable" results.
The data was turned into a map, with redder states being the happiest and bluer the saddest (no political connotation here). While California isn't one of the top five happiest, we are a pleasant reddish hue, meaning we're pretty happy, and we boast the happiest town in America: Napa. Considering a key happy word is wine, this isn't too surprising. Other happy California cities include San Clemente, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Simi Valley (huh? really?), Santa Barbara, and San Jose. High five, Cali! Incidentally, the happiest states are Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Utah, and Vermont.
On the darker side of things, the unhappiest town is Beaumont, Texas, and the unhappiest states are Louisiana, Mississippi, Maryland, Delaware, and Georgia. Sadface emoticon! Bad words played a role in getting cities and states listed as unhappy, so Tweeters, mind your F bombs if you want to come across as upbeat.
Other findings looked at obesity rates and what kind of foods were mentioned, how those of Norwegian descent were happier than most, and how coastal cities tended to be happier Tweeters.
This study used 2011 data, so be prepared for a new ranking when the researchers get their hands on 2012 data.