A new study on the use of language discovers that words with a positive emotional content are more frequently used in written communication.
The encouraging tenor is believed to enhance human communication.
Researchers believe the finding supports the theory that social relations are enhanced by a positive bias in human communication.
The study by David Garcia and his colleagues from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology is published in the journal EPJ Data Science.
Previous studies on written communication focused on word lengths and frequency. The investigations demonstrated that frequency depends on the length of words used.
In these studies, investigators discovered shorter words are used in a majority of written communication. Experts believe this finding (use of shorter words) reflects the well-known principle of least effort.
In the current study, researchers focused on how the emotions expressed in words relate to the word frequency and its information content. The authors focused on words used in written emotional expression in the three most popular European languages online: English, German and Spanish.
Researchers reviewed a data set on human behavior on the Internet, including texts from blogs, chat rooms and forums, among other sources.
After performing a quantitative analysis on this dataset, the authors found that positive words appeared more frequently than words associated with a negative emotion.
This suggests that the emotional content affects the words’ frequency, even though the overall emotional content of the studied words is neutral on average. Researchers believe the findings support existing theories that there is a positive bias in human expression to facilitate social interaction.
Study authors also discovered that when focusing on words within their context, positive words appear to carry less information than negative ones.
This supports the theory that because of the positive bias observed in human communication, positive words are more likely to be used. However, negative expressions are reserved to transmit information about urgent threats and dangerous events.