Human language is biased toward being happy, finds a new study that identifies 10 of the world's most upbeat languages.
The study, published in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, supports the Pollyanna Hypothesis, which holds that there is a universal human tendency to use positive words more frequently than negative ones. Nevertheless, the findings determined that some languages tend to skew happier than others.
Lead author Peter Sheridan Dodds of the University of Vermont's Computational Story Lab and his team found the top 100,000 of the most frequently used words across 10 languages. The researchers then asked native speakers of the various languages to rate whether the words were "happy" or "sad" on a 1–9 scale. For example, check out these English words and their rating: laughter: 8.5, food: 7.44, truck: 5.48, greed: 3.06 and terrorist 1.3.
"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," Dodds and his team wrote.
No. 10 on the list was Chinese. Websites and books among other sources were analyzed in the study. Chinese books scored the lowest for happiness among all included sources.