There you go! Economists all over the world worry about the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the nation. And now, the businesses world over can look for a new value – GHP (Gross Happiness Product) of a nation. Sounds funny? This is pretty serious stuff. Read on.
GHP is a new tool from Facebook to determine the general state of happiness for all Facebook users of the English version of the site in the US.
“Every day, through Facebook status updates, people share how they feel with those who matter most in their lives,” Adam D. I. Kramer, a Ph.D. student in social psychology at the University of Oregon interning at Facebook, wrote. “Grouped together, these updates are indicative of how we are collectively feeling.” This idea led to a project that started earlier this year at Facebook to measure the mood of Facebook users based on what they wrote every day.
“Examples of positive or happy words include “happy,” “yay” and “awesome,” while negative, or unhappy words, include “sad,” “doubt” and “tragic,” Kramer wrote. “We also did a brief survey of some Facebook users, which showed that people who use more positive words, relative to the number of negative words, reported higher satisfaction with their lives.”
In 2008, the GHP spiked toward happiness on major holidays like Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the Fourth of July. The biggest spike came during Thanksgiving!
“The index also shows two remarkably unhappy days. The lowest was Jan. 22, 2008, which was the day the Asian stock market crashed and coincidentally the same day as the tragic death of actor Heath Ledger,” Kramer wrote. “The recent death of cultural icon Michael Jackson on June 25, 2009, came in as the second least happy day in the past two years.”
Of-course this isn’t accurate depiction of how Facebook users actually feel from day to day. Not everyone openly share their mood online and many might even miss being online on happiest and saddest days of the year! Also, I am not sure if the tool is wise enough to consider and understand sarcasm and slang in the updates.
Having said that, it is still an interesting study to look at because regardless of any variables not being taken into account there are still appropriate spikes at key events as explained above.