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A Collective Theory of Happiness: Words Related to the Word Happiness in Swedish Online Newspapers

Author:
Publishing year: 2013
Language: English
Pages: 469-472
Publication/Series: Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Volume: 16
Issue: 6
Document type: Article
Publisher: Mary Ann Liebert

Summary

Background: A central theme in media psychology is how certain contemporary and dominant views may tend to perpetuate themselves by presenting a recurring picture we humans use to form our knowledge about the world. The present study is based on 1.5 million words from articles published online in the Swedish daily newspapers in 2010. We investigated which words were most (un-)common in articles containing the word happiness, compared with articles that did not contain this word.
Findings: Words related to people as portrayed by all pronouns (you and me along us and them among the most recurrent), important others (e.g., grandmother, mother), the Swedish royal wedding (e.g., Daniel, Victoria), the FIFA World Cup (e.g., Zlatan, Argentina, Drogba) were highly recurrent with the word happiness. At the other end, words related to things were predictive of context not recurrent with the word happiness, such as money (e.g., millions, billions), bestselling gadgets (e.g., iPad, iPhone), and companies (e.g., Google, Windows).
Conclusions: The results presented here map on those findings in the happiness literature showing that relationships, not material things, makes people happy. We suggest our findings mirror a collective theory of happiness, that is, an shared picture or agreement across members of a community about what makes people happy — people not things. This consensus influences the content of newspapers and recursively feed the collective theory of happiness itself.

Disputation

Keywords

  • Social Sciences
  • Collective Theory of Happiness
  • Happiness
  • News
  • Semantic Analyses
  • Subjective Well-Being

Other

  • Swedish Research Council
Published
  • Semantic Spaces
Yes
  • Division of Cognitive Psychology
  • ISSN: 2152-2715