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Capturing how the world really ‘feels’ about the US presidential election

Loughborough University academics are using their unique EMOTIVE computer program to capture people’s feelings towards the US presidential election on Twitter.

EMOTIVE can analyse up to 3,000 tweets a second, using complex software to extract from each tweet a direct expression of one of eight basic emotions: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise, shame and confusion.

In the past it has been used to monitor people’s reactions to big events, such as the Paris terrorist attacks, and in 2015 the system correctly predicted the outcome of the UK General Election.

For the US Presidential campaign the research team – from the School of Business and Economics – are also hoping to use EMOTIVE to predict who will be taking up office in the White House.

Professor Tom Jackson, who heads up the EMOTIVE team, said: “Twitter is a very concise platform through which users express publicly how they feel about a particular event, be that a criminal act, an election or even a change in the weather.

“We have already shown what a fantastic tool EMOTIVE is in capturing through Twitter the public’s mood. The system gives us, in real time, a snapshot of how people are really feeling and from this, when looking at an election, we can make a prediction of how these feelings will be reflected in voting.

“It also enables to see how people’s emotions towards each candidate change, minute by minute. From our data so far it is a very close fought campaign, which the traditional polls have not shown!”

Dr Martin Sykora, who is also part of the EMOTIVE added: “The system we created takes the eight emotions and gives them a rich linguistic context so that we can chart the strength of emotions expressed in ordinary language and also in slang.  We can view how reactions grow and diminish over time towards Trump and Clinton.”

There is a dedicated EMOTIVE website for the US elections, where you can track in real time people’s feelings to the presidential race and which candidate is currently in the lead.

The system is tracking and analysing tweets with the following hashtags: #Trump, #Trump2016, #Hillary, Hillary2016, #MakeAmericaGreatAgain, #ImWithHer. In the last 24 hours it has looked at more than 40,000 tweets.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 16/145

Photo credit: By Donald Trump August 19, 2015 (cropped).jpg: BU Rob13 Hillary Clinton by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg: Gage [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, putting it among the best universities in the world, and was named the best in the country for its student experience in the 2016 THE Student Experience Survey. Loughborough was ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2017 and 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2017 and was also named Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017, and University of the Year in the What Uni Student Choice Awards 2015.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

In September 2015 the University opened an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.

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