The almighty and all-knowing Instagram algorithm can deduce a staggering amount of information about all of us, serving up ads and posts catered to our every data point. Our digital selves become increasingly fleshed out with each scroll, click, and search, creating a constellation of interests that compose our virtual identities. The research professionals over at House Fresh have harnessed this power of Instagram for a recent study, using selfies posted on the social media site to identify the happiest states and cities in America.
House Fresh took a sample of Instagram photos from every state, along with the 100 biggest U.S. cities, and ran them through Microsoft's face recognition API called Azure. Azure then assigned an estimated numerical value between zero and one to eight key emotions, plus smile intensity. This score was then converted into a 100-point system and averaged by location to target the places with the happiest and "smiliest" people.
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"We compared both 'happiness' and 'smiliness' because not every smile indicates happiness, and not every happy person smiles," explains G. John Cole in the report of the study's findings. So what did House Fresh find?
According to AI, Utah is both the happiest and smiliest state in the U.S., earning a happiness score of 74.4 out of 100, with 70.7% of photos containing a cheery grin in the study.
House Fresh also found that those west of the Mississippi River are predominantly happier, with eight of the 10 most cheerful states residing in that region. Furthermore, the selfie analysis revealed that America's happiest city is Concord, California, earning a happiness score of 79.1 out of 100. Plus, with nearly three quarters of Concord's residents (74.4%) grinning in their Instagram photos, it's also the smiliest city.
Check out the full report on House Fresh for the complete rundown.