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Basketball star Kobe Bryant died, along with his daughter, in a helicopter crash in January.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Basketball star Kobe Bryant died, along with his daughter, in a helicopter crash in January.

 

It seems more New Zealanders were affected by the death of basketball icon Kobe Bryant than are concerned about the threat of coronavirus.

That's according to research from Auckland University of Technology (AUT) wellbeing economist Stephanie Rossouw and Talita Greyling, of the University of Johannesburg in South Africa.

The pair have created the "Gross National Happiness Index" (GNH) to provide evidence about the state of a country's overall mood.

Data was collected and based off real-time tweets before applying an algorithm to construct the Index.

It was measured on a scale from zero (unhappy) to 10 (very happy), with 5 being neutral.

The findings offered a glimpse into the true mood of the nation, Rossouw said.

Following the first confirmed case of covid-19 in New Zealand, the seriousness of the event did not fully reflect in the Happiness Index.

In fact, the death of Bryant on January 27 saw a greater fall in overall happiness.

It was only after the second case was confirmed that the GHN reflected a drop in national happiness.

Recently the team expanded their research and also started to analyse emotions captured in tweets.

It found tweets differentiated between seven emotions: Joy, anger, trust, anticipation, fear, sadness and surprise.

GNH also found Kiwis do not trust the government or each other during times of crisis.

"I was shocked by the initial findings that showed Kiwis and Aussies feel impervious to the global health threat," Rossouw said.

"Even when the measures to help mitigate the outbreak are directly impacting our daily lives, we still exhibit a sense of mistrust about what is happening all around us.

"We seem to have a strong sense of 'them vs us', which shows a disturbing lack of empathy. The numbers might surprise, but they don't lie."

The Happiness Index reflected the mood of the nation by showing the decrease in happiness levels and more importantly the emotions responsible for the negative sentiment, Rossouw said.

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