This month I’ve chosen a selection of visualisations with some connection to human social behaviour – our emotions, what we eat, what types of shops we frequent.


This month has been quite an emotive couple of months for me and the people around my life for one reason or another – engagement, marriage, divorce, new babies, degree completion, new jobs – and so when I found this website on the name and intensities of emotions, I was engrossed for quite some time.

It was inspired by conversations between the site’s author, Paul Ekman, and the Dalai Lama; and looks into the five main emotions of Inside Out fame in much greater detail.

A trigger of fear? “Snake-like shapes”

A state of enjoyment? “Schadenfreude”

Robin Weis explored the emotion of sadness and its triggers in much greater detail in a 589 day project to record every time she cried along with multiple features of the crying event.

It’s a marathon exercise in data collection and classification, with a nice variety of appropriate visualisations from bar charts through to heatmaps and this interesting diagram showing how the different emotions of crying link together.


Last month, DEFRA released almost 30 years of food diaries that had been filled out between the 1970s and 2000s as open data. Britain’s diet labs created a visualisation of some of the trends, which can be ordered according to the greatest change as well as the default of alphabetically.

I like this website because it takes a large data-set and uses a lovely set of sparklines to make the information accessible to all.

Nathan Yau of Flowing Data was inspired by this analysis and was curious about the US diet compared. He found data via the United States Department of Agriculture and created a set of animated area charts showing how different items in the main food groups ranked against one another in the US year on year

He has extended the concept from Britain’s diet labs, swapping lines for areas and bringing in an animation which you can change between a scale based on the overall group i.e. all areas of one colour on the same scale; or one based on the item itself, dependent on your interest.

Shop types

Finally, and also from Flowing Data, Mr Yau investigated the number of firearms dealers vs various types of fast-food restaurant within 10 mile radii of all inhabited locations in the US and showed the higher volume of store as a coloured dot on a  map.

Even when he combined all the types of fast-food restaurant together, there were still a large number of places where there were more firearms dealers than fast-food places. An arresting result.