New Years Resolutions An Annual Source of Anger Disgust

Do New Year's resolutions make us angry, annoyed and even disgusted? If you’ve stepped into an over-crowded gym this week, the easy answer is yes.

The regulars are disturbed that their “homes” have been invaded by the crowd that has pledged to finally lose weight. And the resolution makers are frustrated that they have to get off of the couch and go do something.

Gain Weight, Lose Friends?

Just consider what people are saying.

Sure, I’ve conveniently plucked two tweets to make my point, but there’s actually science that says that some New Years resolutions make us angry, and still worse, disgusted.

The Good, The Bad, The Annoying

Clarabridge, a customer experience management company that uses an advanced text analytics engine to help leading brands understand customer feedback, analyzed 2 million twitter conversations about New Years resolutions right before and after New Year's Day. It found that the negative sentiment around resolving to lose weight was 88 percent, leaving only 12 percent for those who feel good about the idea.

Why the negative vibe? Dheepan Ramanan, a data scientist at Clarabridge, said it seems to be correlated to a failure from the year prior 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.”

But it’s not only ourselves that we’re upset with, according to Clarabridge’s Twitter analysis. When others fail we become angry and disgusted too. It seems that 65 percent of us don’t believe that others will actually carry through with their resolution to lose weight. Not only that, but the second highest sentiment around losing weight was disgust.

It’s not all ugly though. The sentiment around terms like “get fit” (86 percent) and “eat healthy” (66 percent) was largely positive.

And while it may not take a data scientist to conclude that focusing on the positive is key, Ramanan did uncover one other interesting fact. “No Resolution” carries almost   as much negative sentiment as “Lose Weight.”


Understanding Nuances

What’s the big deal around sentiment analysis? It goes beyond looking at what people are talking about and looks at how they feel, which is a must for anyone who seeks to improve customer experience.

“Sometimes known as opinion mining, sentiment analysis can let you know if public opinion is turning against you or if you’ve done something outstanding to delight customers,” said Ramanan. He adds that sentiment analytics technologies are extremely valuable in any comprehensive customer experience, market research or social engagement program.

And while there are all kinds of sentiment analysis tools available, Ramanan claims that Clarabridge’s is exceptional because it can take into account the grammatical construction of language. For example, Clarabridge understands that the word “not” turns a positive word like “happy” into a negative: “not happy.” It also understands that “could have been good” means “not good,” and that “too orange” is a negative (even if “orange” is neutral.)

For marketers who want to understand their customers, sentiment analysis can be a gold mine. Imagine the opportunity that can be lost in sending cellulite reducing gel to someone looking for a “bad ass workout.”