Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Facebook Data Science's "What are we most thankful for?"

Recently, a Facebook craze asked users to list three things you are thankful for for five days. Data scientists Winter Mason, Funda Kivran-Swaine, Moira Burke, and Lada Adamic at Facebook have analyzed this data to better understand the patterns of gratitude publically shared by Facebook users.

The data analysts broke down data by most frequently listed gratitude topic:

Most frequently "liked" gratitude posts: (lots of support for our friends in recovery, which is nice to see).

Gender differences in is data for women. The wine gratitude finding for women was not present in the data for men. Ha.

Idiosyncratic data by state. I would say that Pennsylvania's fondness for country music rings true for me.

How to use in class: This example provides several interesting, easy to read graphs, and the graphs show how researchers can break down a single data set in a variety of interesting ways (by gender, by age, by state). Additionally, this data strikes me as a replication of Seligman's gratitude exercise from the positive psychology literature. You could use this example to discuss the ways in which students think this data (specifically, the things Facebook users say they are grateful for) would differ when the data is collected via Facebook's public forum versus when participants keep a private journal. How might a public display of gratitude differ from a private reflection upon gratitude?