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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e40181. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040181. Epub 2012 Jul 10.

Increases in individualistic words and phrases in American books, 1960-2008.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, United States of America. jtwenge@mail.sdsu.edu

Abstract

Cultural products such as song lyrics, television shows, and books reveal cultural differences, including cultural change over time. Two studies examine changes in the use of individualistic words (Study 1) and phrases (Study 2) in the Google Books Ngram corpus of millions of books in American English. Current samples from the general population generated and rated lists of individualistic words and phrases (e.g., "unique," "personalize," "self," "all about me," "I am special," "I'm the best"). Individualistic words and phrases increased in use between 1960 and 2008, even when controlling for changes in communal words and phrases. Language in American books has become increasingly focused on the self and uniqueness in the decades since 1960.

PMID:
22808113
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3393731
Free PMC Article
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