Well-Being Depends on Social Comparison: Hierarchical Models of Twitter Language Suggest That Richer Neighbors Make You Less Happy
Keywords:Psychological, personality-based and ethnographic studies of social media, Qualitative and quantitative studies of social media
AbstractPsychological research has shown that subjective well-being is sensitive to social comparison effects; individuals report decreased happiness when their neighbors earn more than they do. In this work, we use Twitter language to estimate the well-being of users, and model both individual and neighborhood income using hierarchical modeling across counties in the United States (US). We show that language-based estimates from a sample of 5.8 million Twitter users replicate results obtained from large-scale well-being surveys --- relatively richer neighbors leads to lower well-being, even when controlling for absolute income. Furthermore, predicting individual-level happiness using hierarchical models (i.e., individuals within their communities) out-predicts standard baselines. We also explore language associated with relative income differences and find that individuals with lower income than their community tend to swear (f*ck, sh*t, b*tch), express anger (pissed, bullsh*t, wtf), hesitation (don't, anymore, idk, confused) and acts of social deviance (weed, blunt, drunk). These results suggest that social comparison robustly affects reported well-being, and that Twitter language analyses can be used to both measure these effects and shed light on their underlying psychological dynamics.
How to Cite
Giorgi, S., Guntuku, S. C., Eichstaedt, J. C., Pajot, C., Schwartz, H. A., & Ungar, L. H. (2021). Well-Being Depends on Social Comparison: Hierarchical Models of Twitter Language Suggest That Richer Neighbors Make You Less Happy. Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, 15(1), 1069-1074. https://doi.org/10.1609/icwsm.v15i1.18132