Who's happier, the left or the right? Years of research would say the latter—but a new series of studies is challenging the notion that conservatives are the more cheerful ones, the New York Times reports. The new research, published in Science, finds that while conservatives say they're happier, it's actually liberals who show a little more happiness. Previous findings have been "limited to self-reports of subjective well-being," Professor Peter Ditto tells the Times. But "if it’s real happiness, it should show up in people’s behavior." To examine that behavior, researchers looked at posts on social media and the habits of politicians.
They reviewed, for instance, the positive and negative language of 4,000 Twitter users defined as liberal or conservative based on who they followed on the site. They also looked at the language of politicians of both parties, as well as those politicians' facial expressions. Conservatives, the researchers argue, are more likely to engage in "self-enhancement," offering an overly positive perception of themselves, the Times reports. But lead researcher Sean Wojcik acknowledges that his own research doesn't offer the final word any more than earlier studies do, the Washington Post reports. "This does raise more questions than answers," he says. (For tips on how to be happier, ask Pope Francis.)