Unobtrusively Measuring the Well-Being of Entire Nations: The World Well-Being Project

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



The primary focus of most developed nations is economic development. However, governments around the world are starting to consider the well-being of their citizens as an explicit goal of public policy, and are consolidating the necessary infrastructure to measure it. To contribute to this new generation of policy objectives, the World Well-Being Project (WWBP) at the Positive Psychology Center at Penn is developing a novel method to unobtrusively measure the well-being of large populations. Through analyzing Facebook status updates, blog posts, Twitter updates, and Google search queries for expressions of Positive Emotion, Engagement, Positive Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment (PERMA), we seek to provide a new measurement methodology that is easily scalable to entire populations, highly cost-effective, and available essentially in real time with high spatial and temporal resolution. This capstone project outlines the theoretical background and rationale for the project, describes the foundational work done in the WWBP, including a description of the computational research infrastructure created to work with the massive databases containing the social media data, and provides preliminary results and complications.


policy, social media, facebook, measurement, big data


Health/Wellness, Other Topics


Empirical Study

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Date Posted: 19 December 2014