Welcome to another installment of Data Tells a Story, in which we round up our latest favorite data stories. This week: making cricket more interesting; personalizing beauty; and how Ikea took over the world.
Unlike what many might think, happiness is not correlated with sunshine, at least according to a study from the University of Westminster in England.
Researchers compared daily weather patterns from 1991 to 2009 with data from the British Panel Household Survey on wellbeing which began in 1991, and found there “was no significant variation in reported happiness between sunny days and cloudy ones.”
What they did find was a “small but statistically significant correlation between unhappiness at work and sunny days.” In other words, on a nice day people would rather be outside than stuck on the office .
The International Cricket Council (ICC) is mining 40 years worth of Cricket World Cup data “to produce insights that enhance the viewer’s experience,” and to “improve team performance and strategies out on the field.”
After analyzing “statistics on scores, player performance, player profiles and more,” the ICC came away with several findings. For instance, they discovered that the team with the most well-equipped bowling line up and not necessarily “the power-packed batting [line-up]” might be the team most likely to win the World Cup.
They also found the characteristics that make a skilled player, which explains why countries not usually thought of as dominant cricket nations, such as the UAE and Ireland, perform well: they “were found to have strong performing players with similar characteristics.”
A beauty start-up that began as a give-away site is now using their data to power personalization tools and help brands give their consumers better experiences.
As part of their give-away program, the start-up invited consumers to periodically answer questions, of which there were 1,300. The company has collected over 10 million data points and is using this data for customer personalization and hypertargeting.
For example, they found that almost half of acne sufferers want “overnight results”; a quarter of people are loyal to certain perfume brands and aren’t eager to try new ones; and 37% are “most influenced by bloggers and editors as to what skincare products to purchase.”
When a post on Reddit asked Redditors to nominate the most “toxic communities” on the site, Ben Bell, a data scientist at a text-analytics start-up, thought there should be an objective way to measure toxicity.
To do so, Bell pulled out a sample of comments from the top 250 subreddits and from the forums mentioned in the toxicity thread. Using sentiment analysis, each comment was coded as positive, negative, or neutral, and afterward human annotators examined the negative comments to determine their toxicity.
He found that in some subreddits, “the community is proactive enough at self-policing that the average score for a bigoted comment is negative,” and “at the other end of the spectrum are those communities which seem to deliberately encourage bigotry.” He also found another kind of toxicity, that which is directed outwards — in other words, a subreddit that “focuses on highlighting bad content around the rest of Reddit.”
It’s not just the meatballs.
Market research is “at the heart of Ikea’s expansion.” For example, the furniture company gathered data about morning routines from over 8,000 people in eight cities. They found that people from Shanghai were “fastest out the door” (56 minutes) while those from Mumbai were the most leisurely, clocking in at two and a half hours before leaving. Those most likely to work in the bathroom? Stockholmers and New Yorkers.
What researchers also found was that regardless of city, women spend more time than men picking out their outfits, “a process many find stressful.” Ikea’s solution? A freestanding mirror called the Knapper onto which one can hang clothes and accessories the night before to decrease morning stress.
To make up for unreliably reported data (in other words, sometimes people lie, whether consciously or not), the company incorporates observed data too, and sometimes finds their items being used in unexpected ways. For instance, via cameras set up in homes, they found that residents in Shenzhen, China often sat on the floor, “using the sofas as a backrest.”