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Use of Mood Words Declining in our Writing

Researchers have discovered “a clear decrease in the overall use of mood words” in our writing. They also noticed a rising use of fear words in the last thirty years (mood words chart embedded above).

In “The Expression of Emotions in 20th Century Books” at PLOS ONE researchers Alberto Acerbi, Vasileios Lampos, Philip Garnett and R. Alexander Bentley studied the use of mood words in six different categories: Anger, Disgust, Fear, Joy, Sadness and Surprise. They explored digitized books in Google’s Ngram database to conduct the research. Here’s more:

Our second finding is a clear decrease in the overall use of mood words through time. We performed checks to confirm that the overall decrease in mood word frequency in the data is not merely a reflection of, for example, greater numbers of technically-oriented or scientific books through time. Although the Ngram database does not give an explicit breakdown of book subject categories, we analyzed the same mood word lists on Google’s 1-grams English Fiction data set, which contains only works of fiction and literary criticism. In support of a real decrease in literary emotion, we found a similar decrease in the overall use of mood words.

(Via NYT and WWLA)

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