Human language reveals a universal positivity bias

Peter Sheridan Dodds, Eric Clark, Suma Desu, Morgan Frank, Andrew Reagan, Jake Ryland Williams, Lewis Mitchell, Kameron Decker Harris, Isabel M. Kloumann, James P. Bagrow, Karine Megerdoomian, Matthew T. McMahon, Brian F. Tivnan, and Christopher M. Danforth

Details: Below is an interactive comparison between the average perceived happiness scores for the 10 languages in our study. The "happiness" of each word was rated by 50 native speakers on a scale of 1 (sad) to 9 (happy) with 5 the neutral point. For each of the 45 language pairs, we used Google Translate to translate isolated words from one language to the other and then back. We then found all word pairs that (1) were translationally-stable, meaning the forward and back translation returns the original word, and (2) appeared in our corpora for each language. Some outliers reflect poorly translated words, while others reflect cultural differences.

Select languages to compare from the drop down menus, and view individual words by rolling over points.


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