Study: Christians tweet more happily, less analytically than atheists

Study: Christians tweet more happily, less analytically than atheists
University of Illinois psychology professor Jesse Preston (left), graduate student Ryan Ritter and graduate student Ivan Hernandez (not pictured) investigated the social, emotional and analytical content of the tweets of more than 16,000 Christian and atheist followers on Twitter. Credit: L. Brian Stauffer

A computer analysis of nearly 2 million text messages (tweets) on the online social network Twitter found that Christians use more positive words, fewer negative words and engage in less analytical thinking than atheists. Christians also were more likely than atheists to tweet about their social relationships, the researchers found.

The findings are reported in the journal Social Psychological & Personality Science.

"Whether religious people experience more or less happiness is an important question in itself," the authors of the new analysis wrote. "But to truly understand how religion and happiness are related we must also understand why the two may be related."

To identify Christian and atheist Twitter users, the researchers studied the tweets of more than 16,000 followers of a few prominent Christian and atheist personalities on Twitter. They analyzed the tweets for their emotional content (the use of more positive or negative words), the frequency of words (such as "friend" and "brother") that are related to social processes, and the frequency of their use of words (such as "because" and "think") that are associated with an analytical thinking style.

Overall, tweets by Christians had more positive and less negative content than tweets by atheists, the researchers report. A less analytical thinking style among Christians and more frequent use of social words were correlated with the use of words indicating positive emotions, the researchers also said.

"If religious people are indeed happier than nonreligious people, differences in social support and thinking style may help to explain why," said University of Illinois graduate student Ryan Ritter, who conducted the research with U. of I. psychology professor Jesse Preston and graduate student Ivan Hernandez.

The findings are also in line with other studies linking greater levels of social connectedness to higher well-being, Ritter said.

"Religious communities are very social. Just being a member of a religious group connects people to others, and it may be this social connection that can make people happier," Preston said. "On the other hand, atheists had a more analytical thinking style in their than Christians, which at extremes can make people less happy."

Previous research has found a positive association between religion and well-being among Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Muslims. But most such studies rely on individuals to report how satisfied they are with their lives or their experience of positive and negative emotions at a given time.

"What's great about Twitter is that people are reporting their experiences – good or bad – as they occur," Preston said. "As researchers, we do not need to ask them how they feel because they are already telling us."

Christians appear to be happier than atheists on Twitter, but the authors caution that the results are correlational and "this does not mean are unhappy overall or doomed to be miserable," Preston said. "If religion improves happiness indirectly through other factors, those benefits could also be found outside religious groups."


Explore further

World survey links religion and happiness -- for some

More information: The paper, "Happy Tweets: Christians are Happier, More Socially Connected and Less Analytical Than Atheists on Twitter," is available online spp.sagepub.com/content/early/ … 50613492345.abstract
Citation: Study: Christians tweet more happily, less analytically than atheists (2013, June 26) retrieved 17 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2013-06-christians-tweet-happily-analytically-atheists.html
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Jun 26, 2013
I'm going to retweet this very angrily...

Jun 26, 2013
Being part of a fairy tale where someone with infinite power cares enought to give a crap who you have sex with or how much flattering praise you heap on him makes people feel special about themselves. Big whoop.

Jun 26, 2013
What else would they be? Always associating with people who think just like you do not only reinforces your own belief system, but validates your religious world view. The atheist world view is challenged from all sides in this country. This not only promotes critical thinking among atheists, but also tends to make us irritable.

Jun 26, 2013
So what this says is: Leave the thinking to the atheists, and let us be miserable doing it for you.


Jun 27, 2013
Happily tweeting away using the devices created by those analytical minds... not analytical enough to see the irony there, happy to take take take. Sounds about right.

Jun 27, 2013
Might this lend credence to the adage "ignorance is bliss."

Jun 27, 2013
Muslims, on the other hand, tweet about how everyone should follow the teachings of Mohammed or burn.

Jun 27, 2013
As an atheist I am happy to report a new movement to bring life and enjoyment to a minority by expressing deep pleasure at thwarting celestial-esque observation of my entire digital being. (Hey, there is no such term equivalent to 'Christianese' for an atheist. I had to make it up as i went, happily :smilelyface:)

Love you NSA and shall pray to you daily.

Jun 27, 2013
@Sinister1811 Muslims, on the other hand, tweet about how everyone should follow the teachings of Mohammed or burn.
There are atheists of Muslim descent you tard. In my experience they are much better friends than you christopaths

Separately, has anyone noticed how American xtians have strange facial features? All of that smiling is pulling the flesh off their face making the skin appear tortured

Jun 27, 2013
Muslims aren't a biologically reproduced grouping. Atheists of Muslim descent is the equivalent to atheists of Birdwatching descent.

Sinister1811 didn't express any affiliation with any group. Why the antagonism?

Jun 27, 2013
@Sinister1811 Muslims, on the other hand, tweet about how everyone should follow the teachings of Mohammed or burn.
There are atheists of Muslim descent you tard. In my experience they are much better friends than you christopaths


Hey tard, I was talking about the Muslims who AREN'T atheists. And as much as it surprises you, there are actually people who still practice the Islam faith. And how dare you accuse me of being a "christopath"? You make way too many assumptions, my friend. I have no affiliation with Christianity and have been a lifelong atheist. So how about getting your facts straight before being straight out insulting, eh?

Jun 27, 2013
There are atheists of Muslim descent you tard


And those people are still atheists. So it makes no difference.

Jun 27, 2013
Woody Allen wrote a short story many years ago about a man who was tasked with finding the happiest people on earth. He finds them. They were as dumb as sheep.

Jun 27, 2013
Twitter found that Christians use more positive words, fewer negative words and engage in less analytical thinking than atheists.


Hmm..seems to mirror something I heard before:
"Religion is the opiate of the masses"
-- Karl Marx

...and like any drug it makes you happy, but puts your brain out of action.

On the other hand, atheists had a more analytical thinking style in their tweets than Christians, which at extremes can make people less happy

Which is an interesting question: Is it better to strive for wisdom or happiness? Is ignorance really bliss?
Sometimes it certainly is - right up until the point when it kills you. (And maybe that's the crucial difference, here. Atheists think death matters - as all you have is the time before that. Christians don't think death matters - as they think they get an infinite overtime)

Jun 27, 2013
On another note, I don't know who owns the sockpuppets "open" and "toot" but Phys.Org should ban this rating troll.

Jun 27, 2013
Atheists don't wear their happiness on their sleaves.

Jun 27, 2013
Christians smiling and claiming to be happy is like North Koreans who pull out the dishes and the food to prove to foreigners(to them, the North Koreans) that they have food for all their people.

Jun 27, 2013
flashgordon "Atheists don't wear their happiness on their sleaves."

You might be interested in reading some of the atheist responses to a roadside billboard - declaring that "With atheism there is no hope - only despair"

http://freethough...al-sign/


Well, I found this; I don't have time to read that right now; i'm still trying to get through John Stillwell's books - thanks

Jun 27, 2013
On the other hand, atheists had a more analytical thinking style in their tweets than Christians, which at extremes can make people less happy

Which is an interesting question: Is it better to strive for wisdom or happiness? Is ignorance really bliss?

Quite right but it seems to me (without having read the paper - so I'm making assumptions) that a big problem is that the researchers are conflating analytical language with emotion. The point of an analytical approach to anything is to leave emotion out and to examine an issue as impartially as possible; this doesn't mean the writer is unemotional. I've done exactly the same thing in writing this comment and, yes, I'm an atheist but I would argue strongly with any psych researcher who suggests on this basis that I am generally unhappy, I simply try to write thoughtfully, correctly and non-emotively to the point I wish to make. Perhaps a more salient study might be pysch researchers and numbers of Ig Nobel nominees?

Jun 28, 2013
@Sinister1811 Muslims, on the other hand, tweet about how everyone should follow the teachings of Mohammed or burn.
There are atheists of Muslim descent you tard. In my experience they are much better friends than you christopaths


Hey tard, I was talking about the Muslims who AREN'T atheists. And as much as it surprises you, there are actually people who still practice the Islam faith.
Any real atheist would realize religion itself is the problem. This is a mental disease, not specific to any one tradition. Divvying out blame piecemeal is a waste of time when they're all based upon nothing, and deserve the same proportionate attention

At least admit that the Abrahamic religions are all one giant mindfuck. Focusing on one is like grabbing a scorpion's claws while ignoring it's stinger

Jun 28, 2013
Any real atheist would realize religion itself is the problem. This is a mental disease, not specific to any one tradition. Divvying out blame piecemeal is a waste of time when they're all based upon nothing, and deserve the same proportionate attention


Absolutely. They're all exactly the same, as they're all based on mythology. I couldn't agree more.

Jun 29, 2013
Yet, moral virtues may be found in religious teachings.
No more or less than any bathroom wall

The most important thing in life is life. That trumps this post or anything else.

Anyone that attempts to debate this truth is not of sound mind, such as antialias_physorg, who has attempted to contest this truth on numerous occasions.
I've observed that you construe anything not blatantly FALSE to be truth, including tautologies. That logic was obsoleted about five centuries ago

Jun 29, 2013
The most important thing in life is life is observed and witnessed by all.

You keep making that statement. i wonder if you knwo the difference between a statement and an argument.

You sound like a guy that keeps shoutig "blue is green!, blue is green! And I say it again: blue is green!". But repeating a statement without argument isn't heplping your case. (you must realize that you are on a site aimed at scientifically thinking people - and they tend to want an argument rather than a statement of faith)

we have another person, kochevnik in this case, that wishes to speak and ignore the most important of all

Since no one has ever agreed with you, we may safely extrapolate that it's about 7 billion people that don't agree with you.

Face it: Your stance is a lie. Because it is based on nothing but itself (and THAT, my friend, is an argument)


Jun 29, 2013
Ignorance is bliss

Jun 29, 2013
A better question is whether other religious groups behave in the same way. In other words, is this endemic to the Christian religions, or to all religions?

Jun 29, 2013
Hey dave
every time you open your mouth
And every time you post empty bullshit here I will endeavor to remind you what a hypocrite you are because you keep spouting about truth while we both know your religion is founded on LIES.

Oh has anyone told you to STFU today? Perhaps your ears are not hearing today.

Hear about the new horse abattoir they opened in TX? everything but the neigh. Don't worry - they don't take horses with names.

Jun 29, 2013
Rare in this world are chidren reminded that they are important
This is a particularly foul religionist lie. You are saying that people have to be not only religious but a member of YOUR religion, in order to love their children.

How fucking dare you.

Lies like this precede pogroms and genocide and you are despicable for repeating it here.

Every post of yours lets people know a little more about the foul nature of religion and of the character of people like you who choose to peddle it.

Jun 30, 2013
DavidW.
Your posts project nastiness. They are a mixture of bombast and viperous invective. You need to calm down and have some quiet time. Ponder this question: Do you "Have real honor and respect" for us? The answer, you should realize, is no. You have unjustly vilified and slandered us all. You should apologise and go away. Go in peace.

Jun 30, 2013
@Sinister1811 Muslims, on the other hand, tweet about how everyone should follow the teachings of Mohammed or burn.
There are atheists of Muslim descent you tard. In my experience they are much better friends than you christopaths


Hey tard, I was talking about the Muslims who AREN'T atheists. And as much as it surprises you, there are actually people who still practice the Islam faith.
Any real atheist would realize religion itself is the problem. This is a mental disease, not specific to any one tradition. Divvying out blame piecemeal is a waste of time when they're all based upon nothing, and deserve the same proportionate attention

At least admit that the Abrahamic religions are all one giant mindfuck. Focusing on one is like grabbing a scorpion's claws while ignoring it's stinger

There are real and fake atheists?

@DavidW: You realise you saying a meaningless statement and therefore saying nothing? Observe a rock.

Jun 30, 2013
A better question is whether other religious groups behave in the same way. In other words, is this endemic to the Christian religions, or to all religions?

I would assert it is endemic to certainty and power [probably]. I like a modification of an old adage: Power corrupts to the degree it is believed deserved or earned. I doubt it is possible to demonstrate either of my assertions' correctness or even truth, so I guess it is not a dogma for me. However, the latter is something I try to keep in mind in all my dealings.

Jul 08, 2013
WTF?
"The most important thing in life is life." The above link's examples directly contradict the statement showing it to be false. If the most important thing in life was life then what was killing those lives? I can't think of a way to demonstrate the 'truth' of you say, because anything shown would not demonstrate a generalisation but a specific circumstance.

It is a horrible situation but you aren't attacking anything. As AA says you are merely making a statement, nonsensical notwithstanding, and not an argument. The only thing grieving those deaths is other life and that is not universal, unfortunately. Doubtful whether you could even get a majority of human life to morn them, other life would simply tuck in and enjoy the dinner.

And life is pretty generic; no matter how we go about it we have to kill other life to survive.

Jul 17, 2013
Mad? No. That you say a nonsensical statement and expound why you think you are so wise to say is laughable.

You are repeating a nonsensical statement. As I, and I'm sure others have before me, pointed out, even life doesn't value itself that much.

And then the ramble about truth and causes. Good luck with that.

"Life is the most important thing in life" directly contradicts reality so can not be a true statement and therefore has no place on the pedestal of truth. And who cares what you think you witness. It isn't like there is going to be an audit.

Why do you call a nonsensical statement which is obviously false "the most important truth"? The most probable means I will be unlikely to be doing any feeding in the future.

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