We propose a new measure of national valence based on the emotional content of a country’s most popular songs. We first trained a machine learning model using 191 different audio features embedded within music and use this model to construct a long-run valence index for the UK. This index correlates strongly and significantly with survey-based life satisfaction and outperforms an equivalent text-based measure. Our methods have the potential to be applied widely and to provide a solution to the severe lack of historical time-series data on psychological well-being.
E. Benetos, A. Ragano, D. Sgroi, and A. Tuckwell, “Measuring National Mood with Music: Using Machine Learning to Construct a Measure of National Valence from Audio Data”, Behavior Research Methods, Feb. 2022. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-021-01747-7