Positive words, positive feelings, little meaning


New research into the use of language finds that words imbued with positive emotional content are more frequently used in written communication. This supports a theory that social relations are supported when positive language is used in communication.

Other studies have looked at word lengths and frequency. These studies shows that frequency depends on the length of words used – apparently people like shorter words with similar positive impact when they can find them, proving the theory of least effort.

English, German and Spanish studied

This study by David Garcia and his colleagues from the Chair of Systems Design at ETH Zurich instead focused on how the emotions expressed in words relate to the word frequency and content. They looked at the three most popular European languages: English, German and Spanish. Written emotional expression was the focus of the study.

The researchers tapped into the language used on the Internet in blogs, chat rooms and forums among other sources. After performing a qualitative analysis on the dataset, the researchers discovered that positive words appeared more frequently than ones loaded with negative connotation. This suggests that emotional content affects a word’s frequency even though the emotional content of the studied words is neutral on average. This supports the idea that there is a positive bias in human expression likely to encourage and support social interaction.

Positive words carry less information

They also realized that positive words carried less information than negative words. Because of the positive bias, positive words are more likely to be used but also hold little specific meaning or transmit little relevant information. Negative words are used in relating a danger or threat which is often specific.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, SpringerOpen


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