Do gadgets like iPhone make you happy? Text analysis says no

January 20th, 2011 by Mattias Tyrberg

Relationships but not money make us happy. We have made a text analysis study to find out the answer. The study looked at which words are written together with the word “happiness” in Swedish media in 2010.

Does money give us happiness? The answer seems to be no. In no part of speech is happiness related to money. Words that have to do with money we find in words that are not linked to happiness, such as millions, billions and percent. Companies are also not linked to happiness, Google, Windows. Not even bestseller gadgets such as iPad and the iPhone is linked to happiness. These results are consistent with previous research showing that people do not become happier by money, at least not if you come across a certain economic base level.

Previous research on happiness have focused on comparing the self-assessed happiness with income, social relationships, etc. This study looks at happiness in a different way by looking at how the word is actually used, especially in the media.

Happiness is often about other people. The results could not be clearer, almost all proper names linked to happiness are the names of people. In top is the Swedish royal wedding, Victoria and Daniel are the names that are at the very top of happiness index. FIFA World Cup is a different theme linked to happiness.

A happy family

It is also interesting that almost all the pronouns are linked to happiness. Top is you and me, which is seen as the partner relationship is essential to happiness. There also seems to be good to “own” each other in relationships, my and your are high in the list. After that, and pronouns referring to other people, such as she and he. Finally, groups of people as us and them. But even if teams are last, so they are significantly associated with happiness, and no pronoun associated with the absence of the word happiness.

This is consistent with previous research in the field, someone who lives in relationship and having close friends are happier than those who lack them. Recent research has also shown that involvement in associations and organizations to make us happier.

The study is made by Saplo. The study is based on 1.5 million words published in Swedish daily newspapers in 2010. The lists were made by analyse which words are more common in articles containing the word happiness, compared with articles that do not have this word. All of the words have been analyzed statistically and only words with statistically significant values are included. The words are divided into parts of speech adjectives, nouns, proper nouns, and pronouns. Other parts of speech has been removed.

The study have been published in international media such as VentureBeat and several Swedish sites including Metro, Radio Sweden and Sydvenskan. If you would like to have more information regarding the study please send us an email