Study: Tweets Sent from Mobile Devices Are More Negative, Egocentric


We recently reported on Hack My Mood, a tool that can map a person’s emotions using Tweets. Now, an interesting study suggests that the emotions we express on Twitter may be different depending on which device we’re using.

The Journal of Communication published the study, “Do We Tweet Differently From Our Mobile Devices?” where researchers found that, in general, tweets sent from on-the-go tend to be both more negative and more egocentric.

Researchers looked at 235 million tweets from North America over the course of 6 weeks in 2013. Tweets sent from mobile devices were found to contain 25% more negative language.

According to Time:

“Have they had a bad sandwich? Have they been stuck in bad traffic? They want to talk about it,” says study author Dhiraj Murthy, who has been studying Twitter since the social network’s start. And we do talk about it, ad nauseam.

Tweet language was paired with the Implicit Association Test, a tool of social psychology that looks at underlying meanings behind different word associations. On the egocentric scale, tweets were sorted as either agency-seeking (self-seeking) or communion-seeking. An agency-seeking tweet, for example, is one focusing on achievement. And, of course, the use of words “me, mine, my” signal individuality. Researchers found that mobile tweets were indeed about 3 percent more egocentric than those sent from the web.

As Time’s summary describes, these moods are also trackable depending on the time of day. Researchers found:

Tweets are the most negative in the early morning and the late evening. And while our ego chills out a bit during the workday, it rises right after, our tweets reveal. “We leave work, we leave school and we start becoming more egocentric,” Murthy says. Happily, though, we seem to give our narcissism the weekends off. Sunday morning, the ego’s holy day of rest, is the time we tweet our least egocentric thoughts.

So, what are we supposed to take from this? The medium is the message? Not exactly. The study simply offers a new context for understanding the emotions behind our public posts: they may be affected, in granular ways, by our environments — where we send our tweets, and when.

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