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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Feb 24;112(8):2389-94. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1411678112. Epub 2015 Feb 9.

Human language reveals a universal positivity bias.

Author information

1
Computational Story Lab, Vermont Advanced Computing Core, and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05401; Vermont Complex Systems Center, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05401; peter.dodds@uvm.edu btivnan@mitre.org chris.danforth@uvm.edu.
2
Computational Story Lab, Vermont Advanced Computing Core, and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05401; Vermont Complex Systems Center, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05401;
3
Center for Computational Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139;
4
School of Mathematical Sciences, The University of Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia;
5
Applied Mathematics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195;
6
Center for Applied Mathematics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853; and.
7
The MITRE Corporation, McLean, VA 22102.
8
Vermont Complex Systems Center, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05401; The MITRE Corporation, McLean, VA 22102 peter.dodds@uvm.edu btivnan@mitre.org chris.danforth@uvm.edu.

Abstract

Using human evaluation of 100,000 words spread across 24 corpora in 10 languages diverse in origin and culture, we present evidence of a deep imprint of human sociality in language, observing that (i) the words of natural human language possess a universal positivity bias, (ii) the estimated emotional content of words is consistent between languages under translation, and (iii) this positivity bias is strongly independent of frequency of word use. Alongside these general regularities, we describe interlanguage variations in the emotional spectrum of languages that allow us to rank corpora. We also show how our word evaluations can be used to construct physical-like instruments for both real-time and offline measurement of the emotional content of large-scale texts.

KEYWORDS:

happiness; language; positivity; social psychology

PMID:
25675475
PMCID:
PMC4345622
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1411678112
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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