By Carrie Zapka, SIOP Blogger
Social Scientists Wade Into the Tweet Stream, an article in the September 30, 2011 issue of Science, is a stimulating read (subscription required. Republished by University of Vermont here). The author shared recent studies that mined Twitter data for insights into human behavior.
Peter Dodds and colleagues from the University of Vermont, for example, applied a novel method to analyze years of tweets from around the world. The Twitter data suggest a global decay in mood, a decrease in “average happiness” level, which they determined by comparing the relative usage of common words associated with positive or negative moods. Their results indicate that the world is not as happy today as it was in 2009!
Perhaps it is too early to tell how useful these innovative methods are going to be for I-O psychologists, but it sure is exciting to think about the possibilities.
What might differences in the average happiness levels between workgroups within one organization indicate? What would it mean if one organization had a higher level than another? If we monitored several companies for years would we discover correlations with standard I-O measures of organizational well-being? Could we learn to predict a future dip in customer satisfaction, turnover rates or financial success by observing a preceding dip in the collective employee mood?
Please reply. Share what you think about the Science article, the University of Vermont study, or the potential I-O applications of monitoring electronic communications within organizations for emotions.