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Christians are happier tweeters than atheists, study shows

Published July 4, 2013 9:35 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Christians use more "positive" words in their 140-character messages on the online social network Twitter than atheists and appear to be happier.

So say University of Illinois researchers after doing a computer analysis of nearly 2 million tweets.

Believers also were more likely to tweet about their "social relations."

But the believers, the study found, "engage in less analytical thinking" than nonbelievers.

The findings were reported in the journal, Social Psychological & Personality Science, according to a news release.

Ryan Ritter conducted the research with Illinois psychology professor Jesse Preston and graduate student Ivan Hernandez. The team cautions that the results are correlational only.

"This does not mean atheists are unhappy overall or doomed to be miserable," Preston said in the release. "If religion improves happiness indirectly through other factors, those benefits could also be found outside religious groups."

Peggy Fletcher Stack