Follow the Data

A data driven blog

Mood measuring machines

Danwei reports the results of an interesting exercise in data collection in China. Poll machines with buttons for “happy” or “unhappy” were set up at bus stops in six major cities and button-press counts were recorded for two weeks (from July 6 to July 20). Of course, there are various kinds of issues with sample bias here, but it’s still a fun idea.

The winning city was Beijing with about 56% respondents claiming to be happy. The other cities were Shanghai, Guangzhou, Kunming, Chengdu and Xi’an.

The Beijing News (Chinese) also reports that out of the 10 polled bus stops, Dengshi Xikou was the “happiest”, while the “unhappiest” one was, poignantly, The Beijing Children’s Hospital bus stop.

It would be interesting to know whether there are any other trends in the data, like significant differences in reported happiness depending on the time of day.

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One thought on “Mood measuring machines

  1. It must be so hard to compare data in happiness studies—relating to the Beijing example, a superficial smile is, of course, a trick of many trades. A red-light district might beat the railway station, but are people really happier there? If it is relevant to think of an internal, Platonian happiness, then I think the threshold for expressing it is strongly socially and culturally dependent. But if one accepts happiness studies as a study of the markers of happiness (although it is rarely presented in that way), it is a cool branch that has a lot to gain by incorporating large-scale data (like http://www.springerlink.com/content/757723154j4w726k/ that concludes that pop songs get more melancholic over the years).

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