Liberal or conservative? The way you tweet reflects your political leanings

Liberals swear more, conservatives talk more about religion

A study of almost a million tweets sent by over 10,000 Twitter users has revealed intriguing differences between the language used by liberals and conservatives.

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London studied tweets sent between 15 and 30 June 2014 by people who followed either the US Republican or Democrat party official Twitter accounts.

They found that liberals are more likely to use swear words, but are also more likely than conservatives to express positive emotions and to discuss international news. Conservatives, on the other hand, were more likely to discuss religion - "god" and "psalm" were popular words.

I, Me, We and Our

Interestingly, Republicans discussed liberal politicians Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi the most, while Democrats were more likely to discuss Republican politician Dick Cheney. Liberals were also more likely than conservatives to use words like "I" and "me", which conservatives opted for "we" and "our".

"Open social media provides a huge amount of data for use in understanding offline behaviour. The way people talk and interact on Twitter can provide a more robust and natural source for analysing behaviour than the traditional experiments and surveys," said Matthew Purver from QMUL, who co-authored the report.

"The results closely matched our predictions based on existing understanding of political supporters' psychology. This means we could use Twitter data in future to better understand people's behaviour and personality, while also using psychological research to understand more about Twitter users."

A paper describing the results was published in the journal PLOS ONE.