A bigger negative emotion vocabulary–or different strategies to describe similar feelings–correlates with much more mental distress and poorer physical health, while a larger positive emotion language correlates with better well-being and physical wellness.
“Our language seems to indicate our expertise with states of emotion we are more comfortable with,” said lead author Vera Vine, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at Pitt. “It looks like there’s a congruency between how many different ways we can name a feeling and how often and likely we are to experience that feeling.”
To analyze how emotion language depth corresponds extensively with live experience, Vine and her team analyzed public sites written by over 35,000 people and stream-of-consciousness essays from 1,567 college pupils. The pupils also self-reported their moods occasionally during the experiment.
Overall, individuals who employed a wider assortment of negative emotion words tended to display linguistic markers associated with reduced well-being–such as references to disease and being alone–and reported greater depression and neuroticism, as well as poorer physical health.
Conversely, those who used many different positive emotion words tended to display linguistic markers of well-being–such as references to leisure activities, achievements and being a part of a team –and reported higher degrees of conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, overall health, and lower rates of depression and neuroticism.
Corresponding to psychological experiences, but it does not speak to whether emotion vocabularies were helpful or harmful in bringing about emotional experiences.
“There’s a lot of excitement right now about expanding people’s emotional vocabularies and teaching how to precisely articulate negative feelings,” Vine said. “While we often hear the phrase, ‘name it to tame it’ when referring to negative emotions, I hope this paper can inspire clinical researchers who are developing emotion-labeling interventions for clinical practice, to study the potential pitfalls of encouraging over-labeling of negative emotions, and the potential utility of teaching positive words.”
During the stream-of-consciousness exercise, Vine and colleagues found that pupils who used more names for despair grew sadder over the course of the experiment; people who utilized more names for anxiety grew more worried; and people who employed more titles for anger grew angrier.
“It is likely that people who have had more upsetting life experiences have developed richer negative emotion vocabularies to describe the worlds around them,” noted James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and an author on the project. “In everyday life, these same people can more readily label nuanced feelings as negative which may ultimately affect their moods.””It is likely that individuals who have had more upsetting lifestyle Experiences have grown wealthier adverse emotion 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 job. “In everyday life, the very same people can more easily tag sexist feelings as unwanted which may ultimately influence their moods”
A Customized open-source software developed by these researchers to help With emotion vocabulary computation is called “Vocabulate.”
Related Journal Article: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-18349-0