Watch CBS News

New study supports positivity behind Pollyanna principle

New York Times science columnist John Tierney joins "CBS This Morning" to explore this groundbreaking study
How language shows we're biased toward positivity 03:38

Researchers went through 100 billion tweets, millions of books, news articles and movies and concluded that our language, along with nine others, is generally positive. The new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looked at the Pollyanna principal, the theory that people have a tendency to use positive words more than negative ones.

"It's named after the girl who no matter what happens, when someone broke a leg, she'd say 'Well at least you didn't break two legs," New York Times science columnist John Tierney said.

While they found there are more words to describe specific negative emotions, people end up speaking more positively. Furthermore, memories tend to be reflected more positively, even if the actual event was more somber. It may be true in news that "if it bleeds, it leads," but even on days of disheartening news, Twitter trends were still positive.

The team also examined New York Times articles between 1987-2007. On a scale from least positive to most positive, they averaged a 6 on the 9-point scale.

"Even the foreign news, the wars and the terrorist attacks, that was slightly positive," Tierney said.

Watch the video in the player above to find out what Tierney had to say about the "CBS This Morning" co-hosts' custom analysis.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.