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The vocabulary of emotions reflects the state of well-being, the study suggests


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The vocabulary you use to describe your emotions is an indicator of mental and physical health and general well-being, according to an analysis conducted by a scientist at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and published today in Nature Communications. A broader vocabulary of negative emotions ̵

1; or different ways to describe similar feelings – correlates with greater psychological distress and worse physical health, while a broader vocabulary of positive emotions correlates with better physical well-being and health.

“Our language seems to indicate our experience with the emotional states we are most comfortable with,” said lead author Vera Vine, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Pitt Department of Psychiatry. “There seems to be a congruence between how many different ways we can name a sensation and how often we are likely to have that sensation.”

To examine how the depth of the vocabulary of emotions broadly matches the experience, Vine and her team analyzed public blogs written by more than 35,000 people and the stream of consciousness essays by 1,567 college students. The students also self-reported their moods periodically during the experiment.

Overall, people who used a wider variety of negative emotion words tended to show linguistic markers associated with less well-being, such as references to illness and being alone, and reported greater depression and neuroticism, as well as physical health. worst.

In contrast, those who used a variety of positive emotion words tended to display linguistic indicators of well-being – such as references to recreational activities, achievement, and group membership – and reported higher rates of conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, general health, and lower rates of depression and neuroticism.

These findings suggest that an individual’s vocabulary may correspond to emotional experiences, but it does not say whether emotional vocabularies were helpful or harmful in determining emotional experiences.

“There is a lot of excitement right now to expand people’s emotional vocabularies and teach how to accurately articulate negative feelings,” Vine said. “While we often hear the phrase, ‘call it to tame it’ when referring to negative emotions, I hope this paper will inspire clinical researchers who are developing emotional tagging interventions for clinical practice to investigate the potential pitfalls of ‘ encouragement of excessive labeling of negative emotions and the potential use of teaching positive words “.

During the stream of consciousness exercise, Vine and colleagues found that students who used multiple names for sadness became sadder over the course of the experiment; people who used multiple names out of fear became more worried; and people who used multiple names for anger got angry.

“People who have had more disturbing life experiences are likely to have developed more emotionally charged vocabularies to describe the worlds around them,” noted James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the university. of Texas in Austin and an author on the project. “In everyday life, these same people can more easily label nuanced feelings as negative which can ultimately affect their moods.”

A new strategy to relieve sadness: bring emotions to life

More information:
Vera Vine et al, Vocabularies of Natural Emotions as Windows to Distress and Well-being, Nature Communications (2020). DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-020-18349-0

Custom open source software developed by these researchers to help with the computation of the vocabulary of emotions is called “Vocabulate”. It is available at osf.io/8ckyp/ and github.com/ryanboyd/Vocabulate

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University of Pittsburgh

Emotional Vocabulary Reflects Well-Being, Study Suggest (2020, Sep 10)
recovered on 11 September 2020
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