Mining Books To Map Emotions Through A Century
April 01, 2013
“Generally speaking, the usage of these commonly known emotion words has been in decline over the 20th century,” Bentley says. We used words that expressed our emotions less in the year 2000 than we did 100 years earlier — words about sadness and joy and anger and disgust and surprise.
In fact, there is only one exception that Bentley and his colleagues found: fear. “The fear-related words start to increase just before the 1980s,” he says.
this method — mining vast amounts of written language — is incredibly promising.
language analysis seems so promising to him — as a new window that might offer a different, maybe even more objective, view into our culture. Because, he says, it’s difficult for people today to guess the emotions of people of different times.
“Our current emotional state completely biases our memories of the past and our expectations for the future,” Pennebaker says. “And, using these language samples, we are able to peg how people are feeling over time.
That’s what I love about it as a historical marker, so we can get a sense of how groups of people — or entire cultures — might have felt 10 years ago, or 100 years ago.”
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