Human language reveals a universal positivity bias

The University of Vermont’s Computational Story Lab conducted a study focusing on whether an emotional connotation of the most commonly used words could reveal a preference for positivity and joy over sadness and cynicism. They decided to use 100,000 of the most frequently used words in the media, amongst the top ten most popular languages. Native speakers were asked to rank these words on a nine point emotional scale, with 1 being the most negative or saddest, 5 being neutral and 9 being the most positive or happiest. They were able to conclude that the most popular languages tend to prefer happier words than those with negative connotations. Researchers found that Spanish was the happiest, and English was amongst the top five. They believe this will pave the way for the development of powerful language-based tools for measuring emotion.

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