Thanks to a large data analysis carried out in 10 languages (English, Spanish, French, German, Brazilian Portuguese, Korean, simplified Chinese, Russian, Indonesian, and Arabic), a team of scientists found that the most commonly-used words in each language had a “a universal positivity bias”.
The researchers analyzed billions of words from books, newspapers, social media, websites, television, movie subtitles, and music lyrics and identified the 10,000 words that were the most used in each language. Native speakers of these languages were then asked to rate the “happiness” of each word on a scale from 1 to 9, where 9 was “happy”, 1 was “unhappy”, and 5 was neutral. In English, “laughter” rated 8.50, “food” 7.44, “greed” 3.06, and “terrorist” 1.30.
The study found that a Google search of Spanish-language sites had the highest number of “happy” words, while Chinese books had the lowest. But, above all comparision, all 10 languages studied scored higher than a 5. “[we] use more happy words than sad words“, the researchers said.
Although reading comments on any article, photo, or video on any website may have led you to think the opposite, language seems to be a positive tool.