Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:April 3rd, 2013 20:42 EST
Do the Use of Certain Words Tell What Kind of Emotions We May be Feeling?

Do the Use of Certain Words Tell What Kind of Emotions We May be Feeling?

By Ron G Anselm

The use of various words in books or when blogging can show what kind of emotional mood the presenter of those words at that time may be in or what types of emotions that person may be feeling when expressing their opinions. " (Anselm, R.)

This is kind of an interesting topic, I was reading recently of how the use of certain words with emotional content in books has steadily decreased throughout the last century. New research from the University of Bristol, Sheffield and Durham suggest this surprising literary change when Authors express certain words when writing books or even when people are blogging and writing various articles or even sending tweets.

I know when I was in Management this topic even extended to E-Mails. How many of us have received those emotionally charged E-Mails from certain co-workers that act like they were raised in a barn? Probably plenty of us and of course those types of people you work with would need to go to a company sponsored E-Mail Etiquette 101 class to learn how to be professional in the workplace but that`s for another topic and at another time.

Those types of people may also know the proper professional E-Mail Etiquette but may be in a certain mood or experiencing some outside stimulus that is influencing their emotions at the time they send those dreaded and cringing unproductive E-Mails in the workplace.

If you have ever been in a leadership position especially as a Supervisor or front-line Manager then you know how it is to have to manage all types of personalities. The one tool that the military taught me when leading is to lead by example and manage per personality. This is how you become an effective leader but when dealing with people you will always have to deal with emotions and moods.

The research of emotions and words looked at how frequently mood " words were used through time from a database that studied over five million digitized books on various subjects. The lists of words within the books were divided into six categories of anger, fear, joy, disgust, sadness and surprise. The six categories of words were previously used by one of the researchers, Dr. Vasileios Lampos studies to detect contemporary mood changes in public opinions when expressed in books, tweets and even blogging.

Dr. Alberto Acerbi who is a Newton Fellow in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Bristol and who is also an lead Author commented on this by saying, "We thought that it would be interesting to apply the same methodology to different media and, especially, on a larger time scale. We were initially surprised to see how well periods of positive and negative moods correlated with historical events. The Second World War, for example, is marked by a distinct increase in words related to sadness, and a correspondent decrease in words related to joy." (Acerbi, A.)

We all know if you have lived the last five years in this country the overwhelming economic recession that has sent once flourishing businesses wheeling into bankruptcy and high-end Executives that once made a seven figure income crumpled to living in tent cities and holding out an empty cup for a handout. That was at the beginning of the recession which is now finally over or so they say.

I`m sure there were plenty of blogs out there at the beginning of the recession that used plenty of depressing words in them and plenty of word filled with anger and fear. I know I used a lot of words filled with frustration.

But now the times are getting better and the use of more happy and positive words in blogs, articles and books are taking shape as if they were being written by someone sitting in a helium gas factory. Writing looks like and seems to be getting happier which means more positive, fun and happy articles that should fill the air waves of the Internet.

If you look at the usage of words, the researchers made some remarkable discoveries about the evolution of word usage in English books over the past century. Firstly, the emotional content of published English has been steadily decreasing over the past century, with the exception of words associated with fear, an emotion which has resurged over the past decade in books and other forms of writing over the past century in applying this same research technique (

 I think the word fear " is going to be associated with many writers and others because over the past decade we have seen so much happen in our world. From World War One through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and then the economic collapse of course these trying events are going to be lodged in the back of everyone`s minds and subconsciously those words associated with fear will surface when writing.

From the recent research on emotionally charged words there has been a distinct stylistic divergence since the 1960s. American English has become decidedly more `emotional` than British English in the last half-century. So, are Americans more emotional that our British counterparts when it comes to expressing our writing? Also, the use of conjunctions or words like and, but, the, etc. had the same stylistic divergence.

Dr. Acerbi went on to comment on this by saying, "This is particularly fascinating because it has recently been shown that differences in usage of content-free words are a signature of different stylistic periods in the history of western literature." (Acerbi)

Co-Author and Professor Alex Bentley commented on the usage of words from the 1960s by saying, "We don`t know exactly what happened in the Sixties but our results show that this is the precise moment in which literary American and British English started to diverge. We can only speculate whether this was connected, for example, to the baby-boom or to the rising of counterculture. In the USA, baby boomers grew up in the greatest period of economic prosperity of the century, 1 whereas the British baby boomers grew up in a post-war recovery period so perhaps `emotionalism` was a luxury of economic growth." (Bentley, A.)

I think I know what happened during the 1960s; too many Janis Joplin concerts filled with not only the psychedelic music but those concert contact highs. Although I was only a stain in my Daddy`s eye I do remember that time in our history was filled with not only good Rock n` Roll music but a ton of writers that loved to express themselves with very emotional and fun words.

Dr. Acerbi went on to say, "Today we have tools that are revolutionizing our understanding of human culture and of how it changes through time. Interdisciplinary studies such as this can detect clear patterns by looking at an unprecedented amount of data, such as tweets, Google trends, blogs, or, in our case, digitised books, that are freely available to everyone interested in them."(Acerbi)

So, I do believe it is human nature to express ourselves with emotionally charged words when feeling depression, fear, anger, happiness or any emotion we have. And that depending on what is going on in our time will reflect how much we use these types of words when writing, blogging or doing whatever.                                       


Fear Factor Increases, Emotions Decrease in Books Written in Last 50 Years, ( Retrieved 2013.

Speaking of outer influences affecting your emotions imagine what it feels like to be the hitter at the plate, your team down by one run in the bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, two outs, Game Seven of the World Series, your of course playing at home because your team is up in the bottom of the last inning, the home crowd is on their feet yelling for a hit, the organist is playing the rally for something to happen " song  and you are facing a one-hundred plus mile per hour fast ball pitcher that is so accurate coming down the heart of the plate with one of his rocket powered fastballs he could thread a needle with that pitch from one-hundred yards away. Sound exciting? It is. And your adrenaline is pumping so hard you could put out a blazing inferno with it in less than a second. Buy your copy of my next book titled, Our Grand Ol` National Past Time " and experience this moment from the very comforts of your living room while you`re reading my book. My Authors website is currently under construction and my book is currently still in production but when released to the market you will be able to purchase your copy of my book from my author`s website at ( There will be a link on my website to click on to buy your copy of my book. I will let everyone know more about the ordering details and when the release date will be when I know from my publisher.