U of M professor presents research on the emotional impact of different forms of travel

University of Michigan Flint associate professor of geography and planning and environment Greg Rybarczyk presents his research at Central Michigan University in room 270 of the Dow Science Building.

University of Michigan-Flint associate professor of geography and planning and environment Greg Rybarczyk visited Central Michigan University Feb. 22 to present his recent research into the emotions evoked by different forms of travel in two different U.S. cities in the Dow Science Building room 270.

Rybarczyk started his presentation after the 21 people in attendance filled their plates with food provided by CMU catering. His research focused on two cities: Washington D.C. and Chicago.

Rybarczyk presented research set out to measure how pleasant or unpleasant different forms of transportation are using geographical data reported on Twitter and purchased through Foursquare for the research.

“When students tweet, they don’t know their data could be used like this” said Matt Liesch, department of geography and departmental studies faculty. 

Using Foursquare, Rybarczyk and his fellow researchers were able to use the location data and the content of each tweet to determine the type of transportation method used, and the person’s opinion on the transportation method used. Each individual data point then had to be reviewed by Rybarczyk or his two research associates.

After reviewing nearly 5,000 data points, the professor and his associates were able to make a few different models to demonstrate the number of people using each travel method, the geographic location of each data point, and the how positive or negative a commuting experience may be.

Rybarczyk explained the reason behind using social media data for these types of studies instead of a self-reported survey.

Social media data allowed Rybarczyk and his team to dodge the problem of truthfulness that comes with collected data through surveys.

“I had questions about him expanding his research to long-distance travel,” said senior Jacqueline Akins, “like airplane travel or the commute between Washington D.C. and Chicago.”

Rybarczyk is currently studying the attitudes of a neighborhood in Italy and the effect this has on the mental health of the citizens.