Sunday, February 24, 2013

What are the Happiest Words in the English Language? | Ian Hill, KQED Pop

If you want to get a positive response from your readers, one step could be using words ranking from 1 to 598 in this list of 10,220 words.Those words rated a happiness score of 7 to 8.5 (with 9 being the highest) in a 2011 study of the "happiest" words by Peter Dodds of the University of Vermont.

Hill writes in this article:

Dodds authored a study that in part ranked more than 10,000 words for “happiness;” and the top three were “laughter, happiness, love.” Dodds and other researchers then measured the frequency of those words in 10 million Tweets that were posted in 2011 and tagged to 373 U.S. urban areas.
Dodds explains how the researchers determined the "mood" of each word:
For the evaluations, we asked users on (the Amazon website) Mechanical Turk to rate how a given word made them feel on a nine point integer scale, obtaining 50 independent evaluations per word. We broke the overall assignment into 100 smaller tasks of rating approximately 100 randomly assigned words at a time. We emphasized the scores 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 by stylized faces, representing a sad to happy spectrum.
Here are the top 26 words, all getting a score of at least 8:
  1. laughter 8.5
  2. happiness 8.44
  3. love 8.42
  4. happy 8.3
  5. laughed 8.26
  6. laugh 8.22
  7. laughing 8.2
  8. excellent 8.18
  9. laughs 8.18
  10. joy 8.16
  11. successful 8.16
  12. win 8.12
  13. rainbow 8.1
  14. smile 8.1
  15. won 8.1
  16. pleasure 8.08
  17. smiled 8.08
  18. rainbows 8.06
  19. winning 8.04
  20. celebration 8.02
  21. enjoyed 8.02
  22. healthy 8.02
  23. music 8.02
  24. celebrating 8
  25. congratulations 8
  26. weekend 8.
And here are the bottom 11, all getting scores less than 1.6:
  • torture 1.58
  • died 1.56
  • kill 1.56
  • killed 1.56
  • cancer 1.54
  • death 1.54
  • murder 1.48
  • terrorism 1.48
  • rape 1.44
  • suicide 1.3
  • terrorist 1.3.
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Hill's article is featured today, Feb. 24, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Style: Write Choices, available at the Editorial Style tab above and by free email subscription.

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