Loughborough research explains emotions behind 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 the program 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 School of Business and Economics at Loughborough University's East Midlands campus are 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: #Tump, #Trump2016, #Hillary, Hillary2016, #MakeAmericaGreatAgain, #ImWithHer. In the last 24 hours it has looked at more than 40,000 tweets.

View the press release on the Loughborough University website for further information and resources.

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, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2018 QS World University Rankings, top in the country for its student experience in the 2018 THE Student Experience Survey and named University of the Year in the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2018. 

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 6th in the Guardian University League Table 2018, 7th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018 and 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2019. It was also named Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017. 

The University has been awarded a Gold rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework, which recognises institutions that deliver consistently outstanding teaching that is of the highest quality found in the UK. 

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking. 

The seven specialist institutes at Loughborough University London include: Design Innovation, Digital Technologies, Diplomacy and International Governance, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, International Management, Media and Creative Industries, and Sport Business. Close industry partnerships with a wealth of leading businesses and creative organisations means teaching and learning is informed by real-life challenges and driven by true industry pressures.