AI links city's good mood days to risky behaviors

When a city experiences unexpectedly good weather or a big win from a local sports team, its residents are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as gambling, according to a recent study published in PLoS One.

Researchers from Montreal's McGill University and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia examined New York City lottery data on days with sports victories and sunshine. "A 'good mood' day in New York City predicted an increase in spending on gambling of close to 2.5 percent per person per day," Ross Otto, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at McGill, told The Wall Street Journal this week.

Dr. Otto and his fellow researchers then used artificial intelligence to analyze the language of more than 5 million tweets from sports-loyal American cities. Again, athletic wins and pleasant weather correlated with positive "Twitter-inferred moods" across every city (except in the case of Los Angeles, where sunshine is not an unusual occurrence).

Since the same psychological processes that lead to gambling are believed to cause other risky behaviors like substance abuse and even criminal activity, Dr. Otto suggested that city leaders could use the study's predictive technology to monitor their residents' moods and, thus, likelihood of engaging in dangerous activities, and better time the release of public service announcements and other warnings.

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