Anger is all the rage on Twitter when it's cold outside (and on Mondays)


The link between hot weather and aggressive crime is well established. But can the same be said for online aggression, such as angry tweets? And is online anger a predictor of assaults?

Our study just published suggests the answer is a clear “no”. We found angry tweet counts actually increased in cooler weather. And as daily maximum temperatures rose, angry tweet counts decreased.

We also found the incidence of angry tweets is highest on Mondays, and perhaps unsurprisingly, angry Twitter posts are most prevalent after big news events such as a leadership spill.

This is the first study to compare patterns of assault and social media anger with temperature. Given anger spreads through online communities faster than any other emotion, the findings have broad implications – especially under climate change.

A caricature of US President Donald Trump, who’s been known to fire off an angry tweet. Shutterstock

Algorithms are watching you

Of Australia’s 24.6 million people, 18 million, or 73%, are active social media users. Some 4.7 million Australians, or 19%, use Twitter. This widespread social media use provides researchers with valuable opportunities to gather information.

When you publicly post, comment or even upload a selfie, an algorithm can scan it to estimate your mood (positive or negative) or your emotion (such as anger, joy, fear or surprise).

This information can be linked with the date, time of day, location or even your age and sex, to determine the “mood” of a city or country in near real time.

Our study involved 74.2 million English-language Twitter posts – or tweets – from 2015 to 2017 in New South Wales.

We analysed them using the publicly available We Feel tool, developed by the CSIRO and the Black Dog Institute, to see if social media can accurately map our emotions.

Some 2.87 million tweets (or 3.87%) contained words or phrases considered angry, such as “vicious”, “hated”, “irritated”, “disgusted” and the very popular “f*cked”.

Hot-headed when it’s cold outside

On average, the number of angry tweets were highest when the temperature was below 15℃, and lowest in warm temperatures (25-30℃).

The number of angry tweets slightly increased again in very high temperatures (above 35℃), although with fewer days in that range there was less certainty about the trend.

On the ten days with the highest daily maximum temperatures, the average angry tweet count was 2,482 per day. Of the ten coldest days, the average angry tweet count was higher at 3,354 per day.

Read more: Meet ‘Sara’, ‘Sharon’ and 'Mel': why people spreading coronavirus anxiety on Twitter might actually be bots

The pattern of angry tweets was opposite to that of physical assaults, which are more prevalent in hotter weather – with some evidence of a decline in extreme heat.

So why the opposite patterns? We propose two possible explanations.

First, hot and cold weather triggers a physiological response in humans. Temperature affects our heart rate, the amount of oxygen to our brain, hormone regulation (including testosterone) and our ability to sleep. In some people, this in turn affects physical aggression levels.

Hot weather means more socialising, and potentially less time for tweeting. Shutterstock

Second, weather triggers changes to our routine. Research suggests aggressive crimes increase because warmer weather encourages behaviour that fosters assaults. This includes more time outdoors, increased socialising and drinking alcohol.

Those same factors – time outdoors and more socialising – may reduce the opportunity or motivation to tweet. And the effects of alcohol (such as reduced mental clarity and physical precicion) make composing a tweet harder, and therefore less likely.

This theory is supported by our finding that both angry tweet counts, as well as overall tweet counts, were lowest on weekends, holidays and the hottest days,

Read more: Car accidents, drownings, violence: hotter temperatures will mean more deaths from injury

It’s possible that as people vent their frustrations online, they feel better and are then less inclined to commit an assault. However, this theory isn’t well supported.

The relationship is more likely due to the vastly different demographics of Twitter users and assault offenders.

Assault offenders are most likely to be young men from low socio-economic backgrounds. In contrast, about half of Twitter users are female, and they’re more likely to be middle-aged and in a higher income bracket compared with other social media users.

Our study did not consider why these two groups differ in response to temperature. However, we are currently researching how age, sex and other social and demographic factors influence the relationships between temperature and aggression.

Twitter users are more likely to be middle aged. Shutterstock

The Monday blues

Our study primarily set out to see whether temperatures and angry tweet counts were related. But we also uncovered other interesting trends.

Average angry tweet counts were highest on a Monday (2,759 per day) and lowest on weekends (Saturdays, 2,373; Sundays, 2,499). This supports research that found an online mood slump on weekdays.

We determined that major news events correlated with the ten days where the angry tweet count was highest. These events included:

  • the federal leadership spill in 2015 when Malcolm Turnbull replaced Tony Abbott as prime minister

  • a severe storm front in NSW in 2015, then a major cold front a few months later

  • two mass shootings in the United States: Orlando in 2016 and Las Vegas in 2017

  • sporting events including the Cricket World Cup in 2015.

Days with high angry tweet counts correlated with major news events. Shutterstock

Twitter in a warming world

Our study was limited in that Twitter users are not necessarily representative of the broader population. For example, Twitter is a preferred medium for politicians, academics and journalists. These users may express different emotions, or less emotion, in their posts than other social media users.

However, the influence of temperature on social media anger has broad implications. Of all the emotions, anger spreads through online communities the fastest. So temperature changes and corresponding social media anger can affect the wider population.

We hope our research helps health and justice services develop more targeted measures based on temperature.

And with climate change likely to affect assault rates and mood, more research in this field is needed.

Read more: Nine things you love that are being wrecked by climate change The Conversation

Heather R. Stevens, Doctoral student in Environmental Sciences, Macquarie University; Ivan Charles Hanigan, Data Scientist (Epidemiology), University of Sydney; Paul Beggs, Associate Professor and Environmental Health Scientist, Macquarie University, and Petra Graham, Senior Research Fellow, Macquarie Business School, Macquarie University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Coronavirus is taking English pubs back in time

A tapster delivers a frothing tankard to seated alehouse customers in this 1824 etching. British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA

The announcement by Boris Johnson, the UK prime minister, that pubs in England will be allowed to resume trading from July 4 was greeted with rousing cheers from some. But having a pint in the pandemic era will be slightly different. While two-metre social distancing rules are being relaxed to one metre to ensure economic viability for publicans, to maintain the safety of customers and staff, pubs will where practical be restricted to “table service”.

Standing at the bar is one of the most cherished rituals of the British pub experience – and many people are worried that the new rules could be the beginning of the end of a tradition that dates back centuries. Except, it doesn’t – the bar as we now know it is of relatively recent vintage and, in many respects, the new regulations are returning us to the practices of a much earlier era.

Before the 19th century, propping up the bar would have been an unfamiliar concept in England’s dense network of alehouses, taverns and inns. Alehouses and taverns in particular were seldom purpose-built, but were instead ordinary dwelling houses made over for commercial hospitality. Only their pictorial signboards and a few items of additional furniture distinguished them from surrounding houses. In particular, there was no bar in the modern sense of a fixed counter over which alcohol could be purchased and served.

Check out: Intoxicating spaces

Instead, beverages were ferried directly to seated customers from barrels and bottles in cellars and store rooms by the host and, in larger establishments, drawers, pot-boys, tapsters and waiters. The layout of Margaret Bowker’s large Manchester alehouse in 1641 is typical: chairs, stools and tables were distributed across the hall, parlours, and chambers, while drink was stored in “hogsheads”, “barrels”, and “rundlets” in her cellar.

Five customers receive table service from a tapster in this woodcut illustration from a late 17th-century ballad. English Broadside Ballad Archive

The bar as we know it didn’t emerge organically from these arrangements, but rather from the introduction of a new commodity in the 18th century: gin. Originally it was imported from the Netherlands and distilled in large quantities domestically from the later decades of the 17th century, but the emergence of a mass market for gin in the 1700s gave rise to the specialised gin or dram shop. Found mainly in London – especially in districts such as the East End and south of the river – an innovation of these establishments was a large counter that traversed their width.

Along with a lack of seating, this maximised serving and standing space and encouraged low-value but high-volume turnover from a predominantly poor clientele. The flamboyant gin palaces of the later 18th and early 19th century – described by caricaturist and temperance enthusiast George Cruikshank as “gaudy, gold be-plastered temples” – retained the bar, along with other features drawn from the retail sector such as plate-glass windows, gas lighting, elaborate wrought iron and mahogany fittings, and displays of bottles and glasses. While originally regarded as alien to local drinking cultures, by the 1830s these architectural elements started making their way into all English pubs, with the bar literally front and centre.

An 1808 aquatint after Thomas Rowlandson, showing human and canine customers standing at the bar in a gin shop. Metropolitan Museum of Art

As architectural historian Mark Girouard has pointed out, the adoption of the bar was a “revolutionary innovation” – a “time-and-motion breakthrough” that transformed the relationship between customers and staff. It brought unprecedented efficiencies that were especially important in the expanding and industrialising cities of the early 1800s.

In particular, a fixed counter with taps, cocks and pumps connected to spirit casks and beer barrels was more efficient than employees scurrying between cellars, storerooms and drinking areas. This was especially the case for “off-sales” – customers purchasing drinks to take home – which had always been a large component of the drinks trade and still accounted for an estimated one-third of takings into the 19th century.

An 1833 lithograph depicting an ‘obliging bar-maid’ using a beer engine. Wellcome Collection, CC BY-NC

Posterity has paid little attention to the armies of service staff who kept the world of the tavern spinning on its axis before the age of the bar. But they are occasionally glimpsed in historical sources – such as Margaret Sephton, who was “drawing beer” at Widow Knee’s Chester alehouse in 1629, when she gave evidence about a theft of linen. While skilled – one tapster at a Chester tavern styled himself rather grandly in 1640 as a “drawer and sommelier of wine” – drink work was poorly paid. Staff were often paid in kind with food and lodgings and the work was usually undertaken by people who were young, poor, or new to the community.

The lack of a bar made the job especially challenging. It was physically demanding – in 1665 a young tapster at a Cheshire alehouse described how during her shift she was “called to and fro in the house and to other company, testifying to the constant back and forth. The fact that drinks were not poured in front of patrons made staff more vulnerable to accusations of adulteration and short measure – sometimes with good reason – and close physical proximity to customers when serving and collecting payment meant such disputes could more readily turn violent. For female employees, the absence of the insulating layer of material and space later provided by the bar meant they were much more exposed to sexual abuse from male patrons.

What can the historical record teach proprietors of any newly bar-less pubs? There are, of course, modern advantages such as apps and other digital tools – plus the example of European and North American establishments, where table service was never fully displaced. But there are practical lessons to be learned from the past all the same. Publicans today might streamline the range of drinks on offer and encourage the use of jugs for refills. Landlords could develop careful zoning for their staff – in larger alehouses and taverns tapsters were allocated specific booths and rooms. Most importantly they need to establish and enforce clear rules about behaviour towards staff – especially in terms of physical contact. Better to have premodern pubs than no pubs at all, after all.The Conversation

James Brown, Research Associate & Project Manager (UK), University of Sheffield

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


How aerial technology helped us discover the largest Pictish settlement in Scotland

Tap O'Noth with its fort enclosure visible at the summit. Author provided

A much-loved local landmark with an ancient fort at its summit, Tap O'Noth is a gently sloping hill overlooking the lush rolling farmland around the village of Rhynie in Aberdeenshire.

Until now, the fort was widely believed to date back to the Bronze or Iron Age. But thanks to a combination of drone footage, aerial 3D laser-scanning and radiocarbon dating, our research has revealed that not only is the fort much younger than previously thought, it also potentially stands as one of the largest Pictish settlements of the late and post-Roman periods.

The Pictish Rhynie Man. Author provided

We discovered it had once contained 800 dwelling platforms – housing as many as 4,000 people – and if they all date to the same period this would stand as almost urban-scale settlement, which archaeologists previously did not believe existed in Scotland until the 12th century.

Uncovering the Picts

The fearsome Picts were first mentioned in Late Roman sources as a collective name for the barbaric peoples living north of the Roman frontier in northeast Scotland. The Pictish kingdoms went on to dominate a large part of Scotland until the late first millennium AD, but few sources have been left behind to help understand this important period.

The University of Aberdeen’s Northern Picts project was established in 2012 to find new sites in a period with few identified locations either in written sources or the archaeological record. A key focus has been the area around the village of Rhynie, whose name includes a form of the Celtic word for “king”, rīg.

Our work at the site suggests the Rhynie valley was an elite Pictish centre from the 4th-6th centuries AD. The area has long been known for its concentration of Pictish stones carved with symbols. In March 1978, a farmer ploughed up a spectacular stone known as the “Rhynie Man” in a field on Barflat Farm just to the south of the modern village.

That summer the local council’s archaeology department took aerial photographs of a series of enclosures around the Craw Stane, below, another Pictish stone that still stands in the same field where the Rhynie Man was found.

Our excavations around the Craw Stane at Barflat farm from 2011-2017 found that this stood towards the entranceway of a settlement that included the remains of timber buildings enclosed by ditches, banks and an elaborate wooden wall made of oak posts and planks.

The excavations revealed a rich array of finds including shards of Late Roman wine amphorae (earthenware jars) imported from the eastern Mediterranean, shards of glass drinking beakers from France, and one of the largest collections of metalworking from early medieval Britain. This includes moulds and crucibles for making pins, brooches and even tiny animal figurines that match the animals carved on Pictish stones.

An iron pin shaped like the axe carried by the Rhynie Man was also discovered, a remarkable find that was one of a number of objects that could be linked directly to the iconography of these stones. The axe that the Rhynie Man carries appears to be a form associated with animal sacrifice and the fearsome figure on the stone may be a pagan deity associated with cult practices.

Our excavations on the outskirts of the village, a few hundred metres north of the Barflat site, also found traces of a contemporary cemetery and uncovered the remains of Pictish burial mounds including the partially preserved remains of an adult female.

A stunning discovery

We have been investigating the wider area of the Rhynie valley since 2017, targeting a number of hillforts found overlooking the Barflat complex. But Tap O'Noth is the most compelling site and one of the most spectacular hillforts in Scotland. The second highest in the country, it is one of the best examples of a vitrified fort – vitrification being the result of the destruction of timber-laced ramparts by fire.

The summit fort is surrounded by a massive 16-hectare enclosure, which itself represents the second largest hillfort in northern Britain. Within the larger fort hundreds of house platforms had been recorded in earlier surveys.

Working on the remains of the vitrified fort at Tap O'Noth. Author provided

Our excavation of the oblong fort was an exercise in extreme archaeology with the vitrified walls and areas of the interior tackled over two gruelling seasons. It revealed the buckled and heavily burnt wall-faces of the vitrified fort and radiocarbon sampling showed it dated to the period 400-100 BC in the Iron Age.

The results from the larger fort then were all the more surprising and exciting. Due to its size and elevation scholars have suggested its construction and occupation dated from a time when the climate was warmer, possibly during the Bronze Age.

A LiDAR density scan analysis of Tap O'Noth’s hut structures. Author provided

But our most recent excavations in 2019 turned that notion on its head – with radiocarbon dating from two platforms and the rampart spanning the 3rd to 6th century AD period, dates broadly contemporary with the Barflat complex. LiDAR scanning (essentially 3D laser scanning from a plane) and our drone photogrammetry survey also suggests that many more house platforms are contained within the lower fort – perhaps as many as 800 – making Tap O’ Noth potentially one of the most densely occupied hillforts in Britain.

The rampart belongs to the latter part of that span of radiocarbon dates, making it the largest hillfort of that date we know in Britain. The number of house platforms on the site suggest a very large population, though we need to test more platforms to assess if they are contemporary, but there is little in an early medieval context to compare the site to.

Our work in the Rhynie valley gives us an unexpected and unparalleled insight into a possibly early royal landscape of the Picts of the 4th-7th century AD. The exciting Tap O’Noth discovery in particular has the potential to shake the narrative of this whole time period.The Conversation

Gordon Noble, Professor of Archaeology, University of Aberdeen

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Carol Ann Duffy: how the acclaimed poet has found new life after laureateship

Mari Hughes-Edwards, Edge Hill University

Being the poet laureate used to kill people, or – to put it another way, the UK’s official national poet would traditionally die in harness. “What next?” simply wasn’t a question any laureate had the luxury of answering until Andrew Motion’s ten-year tenure from 1999-2009, during which reform of the role shortened the post to just a decade.

Today’s poet laureates have quite a job on their hands to resume normal life after they leave the spotlight. It may seem strange to quote a consulting firm at this point, but iLead – which assists clients who have held high-powered jobs to build new working lives – has a fourfold strategy for people wanting to move on after a momentous career “high”. This includes reflecting on past achievements, resting, teaching and finding new creative outlets.

Carol Ann Duffy, the first female poet laureate, is currently engaged in all four. It is telling that during the COVID-19 pandemic she made her first real appearance in the press since stepping down in May 2019 by doing what she has always done: offering poetry to the masses as a source of comfort and a force for good.

Duffy has also created a new collaborative poetry project, characteristically confronting suffering head-on by finding creativity even in darkness. Her latest plans, then, reflect her own ability to withstand not only the draining task of the laureateship itself, but the perhaps equally draining task of leaving it behind.

Business as usual

My work has shown elsewhere that the role of poet laureate is what you make it. It can seem a daunting job – a “publicly owned” role that seems to entitle the press or public to decide when poems should be written and what they should be written about. Duffy’s silence at the 2011 royal wedding, for example, has often been raised in criticism.

Yet Duffy has, quite rightly, shown determination to write only when she feels she has something she needs to say – so she did write a poem, Long Walk, on the occasion of the marriage of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle in 2018.

Duffy’s first themed collection in 1999 focused on the women obscured behind famous male stories.

In general terms, the laureateship’s fame appears not to have changed her – she remains fiercely private, self-effacing in public, and focused on the future of poetry, rather than on celebrity.

Duffy is better placed than most former laureates to answer the question “What next?” because she has reflected, in her work, on the subject of fresh starts for more than 20 years. A decade before her laureateship began, she ended her most famous collection, The World’s Wife (1999), with the poem Demeter. This was a feminist reworking of the Greek myth in which Persephone is bound to the underworld for half a year but allowed to spend the rest with her mother, Demeter. Duffy’s poem ends the collection by welcoming “the small shy mouth of a new moon” – in this context representing the symbol of a fresh start between mother and daughter.

Later poems also reflect on new beginnings. In Snow, from The Bees (2011) – Duffy’s first collection as laureate – the dead immobilise the living, literally stopping their path with scattered handfuls of ice and posing the question that any former poet laureate might well ask themselves and that, in this pandemic, may inspire us all:

Cold, inconvenienced, late, what will you do now

with the gift of your left life?

Starting over

There is something deeply attractive about starting again, although Duffy suggests that this can only be done in the context of grieving the loss of old ways of life – as with 2005’s Rapture, which mourns the destruction of erotic bonds. Sincerity, meanwhile, which was published in 2018 – her final collection as laureate – laments change brought to the family unit by a child’s departure from home.

‘A love song to the lyric muse’: Duffy’s first collection as poet laureate.

Yet starting over is also, Duffy reminds us, a communal political act. Her reaction to this has, thus far, been threefold. First, she stirs up trouble. Poems such as A Formal Complaint (Sincerity) remind us of the potential power of individual choices and voices. The capitalist political system with its focus on fake news and spin may seem too organised a force for mendacity for us to resist, but Duffy calls us quietly to observe one lie at a time, and to call out every half truth, every unjust social policy.

In so doing, a culture can remain sincere (hence the Sincerity of her collection’s title). This echoes the 20th-century writer and philosopher, Jiddu Krishnamurti, who famously wrote that: “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

Reasons to be cheerful

Duffy also offers us permission to be happy even in desperate times, and to seize joy in unlikely places. The Monkey (Sincerity) returns her to her 1970s surrealist roots.

Duffy’s final collection as laureate is an exploration of loss and remembrance.

The impulse purchase, while on an Italian vacation, of a primate offers her a second chance at mothering which, however curious, brings real joy and makes her decide to stay firmly on holiday forever, marvelling “at the possible”.

The European sunshine, love returned, laughter, healthy living and the nightly banana daiquiri she references in the poem make far more sense – as does the very act of playing, with expectations of “retirement”, with words, with poetry itself – than the British cultural enshrinement of overwork, symbolised by this poem’s mention of professorship and laurel wreath.

Duffy ends the poem with an aplomb that those who feel crucified by the weight of our own worlds would do well to emulate:

As for my University Professorship, I shall resign.

All best wishes to the new Laureate. The monkey is mine.The Conversation

Mari Hughes-Edwards, Reader in English Literature, Department of English, History & Creative Writing, Edge Hill University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


How to Make a Pot Like Grayson Perry | Tate

Follow our step-by-step guide to building a coil pot with ceramicist Freya Bramble-Carter. For further tips and details about this activity, visit our website at https://bit.ly/34Sa5Gc. Please note, filming took place before the UK's lockdown measures were introduced.


How to maintain a slower pace of life after lockdown


Before lockdown, our lives were defined by speed. Rushing around, living life at rocket pace was the norm. Keeping up with work responsibilities, social obligations and the latest tech or fashion trends was a neverending feat. Only a privileged few could afford to slow down.

But in lockdown, the pace of life slowed dramatically overnight for everyone. People literally stopped running to work. The office, gyms, pubs, clubs and restaurants closed. Global travel shut down. Staying at home became the new normal. People began playing board games and puzzles, gardening, baking and other analogue pursuits with their new found time.

Now that we are gradually emerging from lockdown, one tentative step at a time, is it possible to hold on to the benefits of being slowed down, and not go back to our old rushed way of living? Our research shows that in order to experience the benefits of slowing down, people must decelerate in three ways.

1. Slowing down your body

We call this embodied deceleration – when the body itself slows down. For example, when people walk or cycle as their primary forms of transportation, rather than taking the tube, train or bus.

During lockdown, we have all had to stay close to our homes, and public transport has been for essential workers only. As we come out of lockdown, the city of London, for example, is expecting more people to continue walking and cycling rather than taking faster forms of transport, and is altering the built environment of the city to facilitate this.

If possible, try to continue these slower forms of moving, as they do not only provide physical benefits. Moving at a slower pace allows for feeling a stronger connection between body and mind, which can gradually open up mental space for deep reflection. It is about getting into a mindset in which you have time to think, not just react.

Read more:

2. Controlling your technology use

You don’t need to give up technology entirely. This is about having control over technology, and also communicating more face-to-face.

During lockdown, we have all relied on technology to a great extent – to do our work remotely as well as keep in touch with our loved ones. Yet technology has been used to rekindle vibrant and meaningful connections to those who are important to us. From Zoom happy hours with long lost friends to watching movies with a partner, technology has been used to reinforce close connections.

Try to continue these practices as you emerge from lockdown. For example, keep up your involvement with the WhatsApp neighbourhood group, which checks in on vulnerable community members. This keeps you grounded in the local, and continues your use of technology to facilitate close, meaningful and long lasting, rather than superficial and short, relations with others.

Read more:

3. Limiting your activities

This is engaging in only a few activities per day and – crucially – reducing the amount of choices you make about buying things. During lockdown, when we were all confined to our homes, the only activities to be engaged in and choices to be made were where to set up our home office, what to eat for each meal, and where and when to take a walk. Now, as we begin to see others outside of our household, as restaurants and bars begin to open for takeaway and shops start to reopen, the amount of activities and things we can consume starts to rise.

Try to remember the feeling of making your own food, and sharing it with your household, rather than running back to eating many meals out and on the go. As you emerge from lockdown, try to maintain practices like stopping work to eat your lunch in the middle of the day, and take tea breaks, preferably with others and outdoors when you can. There is much value to be gained from having the rhythm of your daily life be one which you can savour.

Baking your own bread has been a lockdown trend.

In general, all three dimensions of slowing down speak to simplicity, authenticity and less materialism. Although many people desired these in their life pre-lockdown, it was hard to achieve them, as we felt there was no getting off the sped-up rollercoaster.

Now, when we have all experienced the benefits of living a life which emphasises these values – the amount of things purchased during lockdown was quite small, and many people decluttered their homes – there is an incentive to hold on to this rather than rush back to our old, accelerated life.

We are seeing societal changes which facilitate maintaining this new, slowed down rhythm. New Zealand is talking about moving to a four-day work week, for example, and Twitter says employees can continue to work from home indefinitely.

The current moment offers a unique opportunity to push back against the cult of speed and to continue life in this slower, more meaningful form.The Conversation

Giana M Eckhardt, Professor of Marketing, Royal Holloway and Katharina C. Husemann, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Royal Holloway

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Sargent's Diva Portrait | Tate

After watching Ellen Terry play the role of Lady Macbeth in 1888, artist John Singer Sargent knew he had to paint her. But his dramatic port...