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Happy Friday! With the holiday weekend in the U.S. right around the corner, a look at the world’s hedonometer (happiness meter) via linguistic research is in order!

Linguists recently decided to test psychologists’ 1969 hypothesis that humans universally and subconsciously use more positive than negative vocabulary in speech and writing. “Put even more simply, humans tend to look on (and talk about) the bright side of life,” the University of Illinois researchers said. So is this universal “positivity bias” in language true? Researchers from the University of Vermont and not-for-profit research and development organization the MITRE Corporation recently confirmed this suspicion.

Researchers used texts, speech and websites to create a pool of the 10,000 most frequently used words in each of the languages studied: English, Spanish, French, German, Brazilian Portuguese, Korean, Chinese (simplified), Russian, Indonesian and Arabic. Native speakers rated each word on a scale of how happy (10) or sad (1) the word’s connotation was to them. ‘Laughter’? An average of 8.5. ‘Greed’? An average of 3.06.

Overall, humans use more positive language than negative. We see the good, the silver lining, the what-have-you, holiday weekend or not!

And while the team’s findings were largely universal in confirming this positivity bias, slight differences between languages’ hedonometers were noted. Need a pick-me-up? Try reading a Spanish book or website.

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