Twitter lays bare people’s conservative, liberal traits

London, Sep 17 (IANS) If you are a liberal, you are likely to swear more and use more individual words like ‘me’. If you happen to be conservative, you are more likely to talk about religion and opt more for the group-oriented ‘us’, a new study has revealed.

Researchers at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) studied nearly a million tweets from over 10,000 Twitter users who were followers of either Republican (conservatives) or Democrat (liberals) party.

While liberals are more likely to swear, with ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ in their top 10 most used words, the researchers believed this is associated with their use of more emotionally expressive language.

Liberals are also more likely than conservatives to express positive emotions, and to use language associated with anxiety and feelings.

Conservatives are more likely to discuss religion, with ‘god’ and ‘psalm’ being popular words.

As might be expected, there were also clear differences in the discussion of politics and topical issues: liberals were more likely to discuss international news, frequently mentioning ‘Kenya’, where 60 people were killed in violent attacks during the time of the study, and ‘Delhi’ which was also regularly in the news at the time.

However, while you would expect Democrats to mention Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi regularly it was actually Republicans who talked about their opposition most, while Democrats conversely were more likely to talk about Dick Cheney.

The study showed that the language used on Twitter fits with previous understanding of the psychology of liberal and conservative people.

“The way people talk and interact on Twitter can provide a more robust and natural source for analysing behaviour than the traditional experiments and surveys,” said study author Matthew Purver.

“This means we could use Twitter data in future to better understand people’s behaviour and personality,” he added.

The results were published in PLOS ONE.

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