SPAIN experienced the largest drop in happiness in Europe, a new study has revealed. 

Research published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour used ‘sentiment analysis’ to automatically scan the contents of 600 million social media posts from 10.5 million people and assess the emotional content. 

Analysing the language used, in correlation with the locations tagged, researchers found that Spain experienced one of the largest drops in happiness in Europe, closely followed by the UK. 

Using data from across 100 countries, the study determined that countries with a higher death toll and inefficient governments had the most unhappy residents. 

Scientists also analysed the effects of lockdown by comparing similar countries that did and did not impose restrictions. Surprisingly, they found that in the short term there was tentative evidence that going into lockdown led to a small net increase in happiness.

“The takeaway here is that the pandemic itself caused a huge emotional toll, four to five times the variation in sentiment observed in a normal week,” Professor Siqi Zheng, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said.

“On the one hand, lockdown policies might make people feel secure, and not as scared. On the other hand, in a lockdown when you cannot have social activities, it’s another emotional stress. The impact of lockdown policies perhaps runs in two directions.”

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