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Written Communication Typically Takes a Positive Spin

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.

Source: Springer

Written Communication Typically Takes a Positive Spin

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Written Communication Typically Takes a Positive Spin. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 21, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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