The words most often used in the human language tend to have a positive connotation rather than have a negative one, findings of a study on language and its emotional capacity have revealed that humans have a bias towards happiness.
The research, which was published in the journal PNAS on Monday, is the first to use big data to investigate the Pollyanna hypothesis, which posits that since humans take pleasure when socializing with each other, human communication reflects this positivity.
The idea was first put forth by psychologists from the University of Illinois in 1969 when their study has shown that humans have the universal tendency to use positive words instead of those that reflect negative feelings.
Findings of the new study conducted by Peter Sheridan Dodds, from the University of Vermont, and colleagues, however, showed that some languages are more likely to embody more positive and happier emotions than other languages.
The researchers have come up with the list of the top 100,000 most frequently used words in each of ten languages namely German, Korean, English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Brazilian Portuguese, Indonesian, Russian and Egyptian Arabic by combing through Twitter, Google's Web Crawl, song lyrics as well as movie and television subtitles, among others.
Dodds and colleagues then asked the native speakers of various language to rate the words with 1 as the most negative and 9, the most positive. After running the scores through a computer, the researchers found that each of the 10 languages often uses positive words and in a wider range of forms rather than negative ones.
They were also able to rank the languages according to their linguistic happiness. Of the ten languages the researchers looked into in their study, Chinese was the least happy. It is followed by the Korean language on the 9th place, Arabic, Russian, Indonesian, French, German, English and Portuguese. The happiest language, taking the top spot, is Spanish.
The researchers said that the result of their study confirms the Pollyanna Hypothesis albeit they also pointed out that this applies if the words people use convey their true emotions.
"The most commonly used words of 24 corpora across 10 diverse human languages exhibit a clear positive bias, a big data confirmation of the Pollyanna hypothesis," the researchers wrote. "The study's findings are based on 5 million individual human scores and pave the way for the development of powerful language-based tools for measuring emotion."