Building a Profile of Subjective Well-Being for Social Media Users

Building a Profile of Subjective Well-Being for Social Media Users

By
Lushi Chen, Tao Gong, Michal Kosinski, David Stillwell, Robert L. Davidson
PLoS ONE. November
14, 2017, Vol. 12, Issue 11

Subjective well-being includes ‘affect’ and ‘satisfaction with life’ (SWL). This study proposes a unified approach to construct a profile of subjective well-being based on social media language in Facebook status updates. We apply sentiment analysis to generate users’ affect scores, and train a random forest model to predict SWL using affect scores and other language features of the status updates. Results show that: the computer-selected features resemble the key predictors of SWL as identified in early studies; the machine-predicted SWL is moderately correlated with the self-reported SWL (r = 0.36, p < 0.01), indicating that language-based assessment can constitute valid SWL measures; the machine-assessed affect scores resemble those reported in a previous experimental study; and the machine-predicted subjective well-being profile can also reflect other psychological traits like depression (r = 0.24, p < 0.01). This study provides important insights for psychological prediction using multiple, machine-assessed components and longitudinal or dense psychological assessment using social media language.