The words with which you express your emotions reveal your mental health and well-being


The vocabulary you use to describe your emotions is an indicator of mental and physical health and general well-being, according to an analysis led by a scientist at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, in the United States, and published in the journal ‘Nature Communications’.

Thus, a broader vocabulary of negative emotions, or different ways of describing similar feelings, is correlated with more psychological distress and poorer physical health, while a broader vocabulary of positive emotions is correlated with better well-being and health physical.

“Our language seems to indicate our experience with the emotional states we are most comfortable with,” says lead author Vera Vine, a postdoctoral fellow in Pitt’s Department of Psychiatry. “There seems to be a congruence between how many different forms we can name. a feeling and the frequency and probability that we experience that feeling. “

To examine how the depth of the vocabulary of emotions broadly corresponds to lived experience, Vine and his team analyzed public blogs written by more than 35,000 people and stream of consciousness essays by 1,567 college students. The students also reported their moods periodically during the experiment.

In general, people who used a wider variety of negative emotion words tended to display linguistic markers associated with lower well-being, such as references to illness and being alone, and reported greater depression and neuroticism, as well as poorer physical health.

In contrast, those who used a variety of positive emotion words tended to display linguistic markers of well-being – such as references to leisure activities, achievement, and being part of a group – and reported higher rates of consciousness, extraversion, agreeableness , general health and lower rates of depression and neuroticism.

These findings suggest that an individual’s vocabulary may correspond to emotional experiences, but does not talk about whether emotional vocabularies were helpful or harmful in generating emotional experiences.

“There is a lot of excitement right now about expanding people’s emotional vocabulary and teaching how to accurately articulate negative feelings,” Vine notes.

“While we often hear the phrase ‘name it to tame it’ when referring to negative emotions, I hope this article can inspire clinical researchers who are developing emotion labeling interventions for clinical practice to study the potential dangers of encourage the excessive labeling of negative emotions and the potential utility of teaching positive words, “he adds.

During the stream of consciousness exercise, Vine and his colleagues found that students who used more names for sadness became sadder over the course of the experiment; people who used more names for fear were more concerned, and people who used more names for anger became more angry.

“People who have had more disturbing life experiences are likely to have developed a richer vocabulary of negative emotions to describe the worlds around them,” says James W. Pennebaker, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas and an author of the project – In everyday life, these same people can more easily label nuanced feelings as negative, which can ultimately affect their mood. “

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