What People Really Think About New Year’s Resolutions

By: Dheepan Ramanan

January 7, 2015

Tags:
Sentiment Analysis
social listening
social media
Speech Analytics
text analytics

It’s easy to find out what the top New Year’s resolutions are, and most of them aren’t surprising. What’s more interesting, though, is how people feel about those top resolutions. For example, are most people optimistic that this will be the year their resolutions stick? Why do people feel differently about a resolution like “getting fit” vs. “losing weight” when the end result is, to a large extent, the same?

We used our customer intelligence platform to conduct a sentiment analysis of Twitter conversations about New Year’s resolutions. We found nearly two million tweets in this social data during the week before and after January 1 and analyzed them for positive and negative sentiment.

Top Resolutions:

  1. Get Fit
  2. Lose Weight
  3. New/Improved Romantic Relationships
  4. Spend Less on Food
  5. No Resolutions
  6. Eat Healthy
  7. Be Nicer
  8. Find a Better Job
  9. Read More
  10. Be More Religious

 

New Year’s skepticism: Anger, which generally corresponds to disbelief that others will actually carry through with their resolution, was evident in 65% of Twitter posts about New Year’s resolutions. The next most common sentiment wasn’t much better: disgust. Anger was particularly true with the resolution to “lose weight,” as many tweets centered on the fact that many others had a New Year’s resolution to lose weight but never actually accomplished that goal.

The sentiment of failure: More broadly, negative sentiment on social media (seen in the red parts of the bar chart below) correlated to failing a resolution — whether that meant a failure from the previous year or a prediction that the resolution would fail this year. For instance: “My New Year’s resolution is to lose weight and gain friends but in reality I am probably going to gain weight and lose friends #truth.”

The silver lining: Some resolutions were overwhelmingly positive, including get fit” and “eat healthy.” This was especially notable in contrast to the seemingly similar goal to “lose weight,” which had the most negative sentiment out of all top resolutions.

Not having a resolution at all was the second highest in terms of negative sentiment. On the flipside, other positive resolutions like “be nicer” and “enjoy life more” also had strong positive sentiment. Meanwhile, “save money” and finding a “new/improved romantic relationship” were the most split between positive and negative sentiment out of the top resolutions.

 

Overall, positive resolutions have a more positive sentiment, which correlates to a higher success rate. That’s because the resolution focuses on the positive, as opposed to what is being lost or missed. People focusing on health in the New Year should resolve to “get fit” or “eat healthy” — not “lose weight.”

And no, not having a resolution isn’t the key to avoiding disappointment!


Dheepan Ramanan is a data scientist at Clarabridge. Follow him on Twitter @DheepanRamanan.
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