Books contain fewer words about feelings

Other than fear, words about emotions have steadily decreased in books throughout the last century, say researchers. – Books contain fewer words about feelings. This is a summary of The Expression of Emotions in 20th Century Books.

These researchers searched fiction books published in English during the 20th century for Anger, Disgust, Fear, Joy, Sadness, and Surprise, and—surprise—discovered that with the exception of Fear, the frequency of their appearance declined.

They also discovered that American English and British (English?) English diverged beginning in the 1960s, with American English novels being more ’emotional’ than their English counterparts.

The research was apparently inspired by earlier research which measured the mood of a country by measuring the emotions present in tweets.

Note the similarity in the title with Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872). Darwin was interested in facial and bodily expression. This paper is interested in the expression of emotions via words.

There is one obvious difficulty with this enterprise: an emotion can be present in a text without its name appearing. So I’m not sure what this tells us. But, what am I saying: the emotion exists only in the reader, it this which the words elicit. And this emotion leaves no trace whatsoever.

But it does raise the question, While we can measure the emotional state of a person by looking at and listening to them, how do we know the emotional state of a town, city or country?

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