Human language reveals a universal positivity bias.

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Dodds, Peter Sheridan; Clark, Eric M; Desu, Suma; Frank, Morgan R; Reagan, Andrew J; Williams, Jake Ryland; Mitchell, Lewis; Harris, Kameron Decker; Kloumann, Isabel M; Bagrow, James P; Megerdoomian, Karine; McMahon, Matthew T; Tivnan, Brian F; Danforth, Christopher M
Year of Publication: 2015
Journal: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Volume: 112
Issue: 8
Pagination: 2389-94
Date Published: 2015 Feb 24
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1091-6490
Keywords: Bias (Epidemiology), Emotions, Humans, Language, Time Factors

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.

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1411678112
Alternate Journal: Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.