GOOD

Get Happy! New Research Shows All Language Might Be Inherently Positive

Unfortunately, the same can’t necessarily be said for the people speaking it.

image via (cc) flickr user eutouring

Spend enough time on the internet, and you might start feeling an inescapable sense of melancholy from the constant barrage of bad news, mean-spirited tweets, and divisive Facebook posts from that guy you haven’t spoken to since high school. But while an endless stream of depressing words scrolling across your laptop screen might put you in a funk, a new study indicates that language itself isn’t necessarily such a bummer; There may, in fact, be an inherent trend toward the positive across the spectrum of human languages.


For their study "Human Language Reveals a Universal Positivity Bias,” published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences, a team of mathematicians from the University Of Vermont lead by Peter Dodds looked across ten different languages including English, Arabic, and simplified Chinese, compiling thousands of the most used words culled from literature, social media, even song lyrics. Using native speakers to asses the various compiled words in terms of their positivity, the team concluding there is:

...evidence of a deep imprint of human sociality in language, [and] that (i) the words of natural human language possess a universal positivity bias, (ii) the estimated emotional content of words is consistent between languages under translation, and (iii) this positivity bias is strongly independent of frequency of word use.

For those who insist on keeping score, Spanish reportedly has the strongest bias toward positivity, while Chinese rankes last. Still, the overall trend, the researchers found, indicated a positivity bias across all languages.

As the paper notes, this is effectively a data-driven confirmation of—or at least supporting evidence for—what’s known as the “Pollyanna Hypothesis,” a 1969 theory by University of Illinois researchers Jerry Boucher and Charles Osgood, which theorizes “a universal human tendency to use evaluatively positive words more frequently and diversely than evaluatively negative words." As Vice’s Motherboard points out, these types of evaluative language studies have been around for a while, with Dodds himself having done a similar – if more limited – one in 2012. But while that project, and Boucher/Osgood’s 1969 work, focused specifically on English, Dodds latest research, he explained to Motherboard represents a “leap forward in terms of the scope of data-based approaches to language analysis."

While the study seems to confirm a language bias toward positivity, it’s not without limitations. Factors such as word-context were not taken into account, nor does the study ultimately answer whether language makes humans naturally happy, or if humans are happy, and the observed positivity is byproduct thereof. Rather, Dodds told Motherboard, this study is simply a starting place for scientists to conduct more complex, more comprehensive language analysis.

Given that ninety percent of the world’s six thousand or so languages are may be set to go extinct in the next hundred years, they’d better hurry.

Articles
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, announcing it had over 900 emails that White House aide Stephen Miller sent to former Breitbart writer and editor Katie McHugh.

According to the SPLC, in the emails, Miller aggressively "promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof's murderous rampage."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.

Culture
NASA

Four black women, Engineers Christine Darden and Mary Jackson, mathematician Katherine Johnson, and computer programmer Dorothy Vaughan, worked as "human computers" at NASA during the Space Race, making space travel possible through their complex calculations. Jackson, Johnson, and Vaughn all played a vital role in helping John Glenn become the first American to orbit the Earth.

They worked behind the scenes, but now they're getting the credit they deserve as their accomplishments are brought to the forefront. Their amazing stories were detailed in the book "Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race" by Margot Lee Shetterly, which was later turned into a movie. (Darden was not featured in the movie, but was in the book). Johnson has a building at NASA named after her, and a street in front of NASA's Washington D.C. headquarters was renamed "Hidden Figures Way."

Keep Reading Show less
Science

Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News
Courtesy of John S. Hutton, MD

A report from Common Sense Media found the average child between the ages of 0 and 8 has 2 hours and 19 minutes of screen time a day, and 35% of their screen time is on a mobile device. A new study conducted by the Cincinnati Children's Hospital published in the journal, JAMA Pediatrics, found exactly what all that screen time is doing to your kid, or more specifically, your kid's developing brain. It turns out, more screen time contributes to slower brain development.

First, researchers gave the kids a test to determine how much and what kind of screen time they were getting. Were they watching fighting or educational content? Were they using it alone or with parents? Then, researchers examined the brains of children aged 3 to 5 year olds by using MRI scans. Forty seven brain-healthy children who hadn't started kindergarten yet were used for the study.

They found that kids who had more than one hour of screen time a day without parental supervision had lower levels of development in their brain's white matter, which is important when it comes to developing cognitive skills, language, and literacy.

Keep Reading Show less
Health