Online Tool Tracks People’s Emotional Changes
Tuesday, 20th May 2014 at 9:57 am
A new online tool, developed by the Black Dog Institute and CSIRO, can analyse the words from millions of tweets to display real-time views of emotions from around the world.
Most recently, the “We Feel” tool showed spikes in the public’s response to last week’s Federal Budget – picking up spikes in fear, anger and surprise.
According to the Black Dog Institute and CSIRO, We Feel will help researchers understand how people’s emotions fluctuate over time due to changes in social, economic and environmental factors such as weather, time of day, news of a natural disaster or political instability.
They also said they hoped the tool could help understand how a collective mood changes and could help monitor community mental health and predict where services need to be assigned.
Black Dog Institute Director Professor Helen Christensen said We Feel represented the world’s first foray into understanding how social media could be used to detect poor mental health and observe shifts according to time and place.
“The power of this information cannot be underestimated. Currently, mental health researchers and associated public health programs use population data that can be over five years old,” she said.
“Should the real-time data gained using this incredible tool prove accurate, we will have the unique opportunity to monitor the emotional state of people across different geographical areas and ultimately predict when and where potentially life-saving services are required.”
Dr Cecile Paris, Research leader in language and social computing at CSIRO’s Digital Productivity and Services Flagship, said We Feel looked for up to 600 specific words in a stream of about 27 million tweets per day and mapped them to a hierarchy of emotions which included love, joy, surprise, anger, sadness and fear.
“You can explore emotion and trends on a minute by minute time scale, across locations around the globe and gender to further refine the results,” she said.
We Feel is accessible to the public for a short time at http://wefeel.csiro.au.