Data Viz: A Running Joke

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It took awhile to come up with a decent idea for this assignment. When brainstorming, I instinctively tried to select two variables that would be likely to show a correlation. And because the media seems to associate physical exercise almost exclusively with positive outcomes, I figured that exercise may be positively correlated with happiness. Measuring daily exercise output was simple: I would use the health app on my iPhone to track distance (in miles) travelled per day. Deciding how to measure happiness was the tricky part, but I eventually figured that frequency of laughter would serve as a relative indicator for happiness. Recording laughter was by far the most difficult part of this process. In the beginning especially, I constantly forgot to record laughs throughout the day. It was difficult to consciously draw my attention to something so habitual. Though, overtime it became routine and easier to record.

My immediate prediction for this experiment was that miles travelled would be positively correlated with laughter. In other words, the more I exercised the happier I would be that day.  Though, the results of my data analysis (more or less) displayed the opposite trend. While I must acknowledge there were a number of outliers, such as day 3, 10, 12 and 15, the results displayed a slight negative correlation between exercise and happiness. In other words the lazier I was that day the more I laughed!

I also envisioned that laughter would be lowest during the weekdays and would gradually increase in proximity to the weekends: ultimately peaking on Fridays and Saturdays. However, several days where frequent laughter was recorded, including the day I laughed the most, actually took place in the beginning or middle of the week. I laughed the most on a Tuesday, which is surprising because Tuesday is my busiest workday, and far from the weekend. And I laughed the least on a Sunday, which is less surprising because Sunday marks the end of the weekend and I’ve never really liked Sundays in general. Circling back to the primary finding of this experiment, the negative correlation between miles travelled and laughter, I have wondered what aspects of my lifestyle may explain this trend. Maybe on the days I exercised less I was spending more time with friends (which can often take place around a TV or a dinner table): resulting in more laughter. Or maybe the days I exercised more I was too busy and preoccupied to laugh, or was too tired and therefore needed to sleep more. Nonetheless, I think most of my friends would report that I’m an extremely lazy and laugh at pretty much everything.

When composing my visual, I compiled the data I had been tracking on an Excel document and created a line graph. I then used Patina and drew in some aesthetic details to make it more visually appealing and to accentuate notable peaks and valleys in my graph. After looking at the final product I came to the conclusion that I don’t exercise as often as I should, which is bad. But I laugh very frequently, which is good!


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