Twitter messages are being used increasingly to track public mood and interests. Social media and Big Data enthusiasts–and those of us who care about measurement validity–will be interested to know that a new investigation provides evidence of the validity of some Twitter-based measures.
The Nielsen rating company recruited almost 300 adults in three cities to wear special caps that measured their brain activity while watching TV shows. There was a very strong correlation between the number of tweets, retweets, and replies posted nationally during eight hour-long shows and neurological engagement of the study participants who were watching the shows (but who were not permitted to use Twitter).
You can read more about this innovative research in a New York Times article: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/08/twitter-chatter-reveals-what-we-like-to-watch/.
Does this validation study convince you that social scientists should take Twitter seriously? What other type of measurement validation research would you suggest? Do you think results would be consistent across demographic groups? What other uses could you think of for such neuroscience-based validation efforts?