Holy day effects on language: How religious geography, individual affiliation and day of the week relate to sentiment and topics on Twitter
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Religious belief and attendance predict improved well-being at the individual level. Paradoxically, geographic locations with high rates of religious belief and attendance are often those with the differentially high rates of societal instability and suffering. Many of the consequences of religiosity are context-based and vary across time, and holy days are naturally-occurring religious cues that have been shown to influence religiously-relevant attitudes and behaviors. I investigated the degree to which personal religiosity and religious geography (i.e. religious demographics with other location variables) individually and interactively predict well-being across days of the week. In the first study, American Christians demonstrated greater well-being by expressing more positive sentiment in Twitter posts, while American Muslims displayed less well-being. Sundays were generally the most positive day, but American Muslims communicated more happiness on Fridays (the Muslim holy day). In the second study, Christianity did not predict increased well-being in the posts of college students. In the third study, global survey data with measures of religiosity and well-being indicated that the well-being consequences of religious affiliation depend on the religious group and location, and that people tend to be especially positive on their group’s holy day. Study four explored the latent topical content of Twitter posts. Across studies, religious minority status appeared to have a deleterious effect on well-being.