The Use of Positive Words in Political Science Language
by Nils B. Weidmann, University of Konstanz, Sabine Otto, Uppsala University and Lukas Kawerau, University of Konstanz
Research in the natural sciences has shown that the frequency of words with positive connotations such as “novel” or “innovative” has increased dramatically over the last decades. How does the language of political science change over time? In a new article published in PS: Political Science & Politics, Nils. B. Weidmann, Sabine Otto and Lukas Kawerau provide new results to answer this question. Using abstracts from the three main political science journals, the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science and the Journal of Politics, they show that there is a similar tendency in the field for researchers to increasingly frame their research in a positive tone. This increase cannot be explained by general changes in the use of language, so it is something that seems to be a feature specific to scientific language. At the same time, the increase in the use of positive words in political science is much less pronounced as compared to the natural sciences. While their research cannot tell with certainty, one explanation for this trend could be found in changing norms in the discipline, where research framed in a positive way is more likely to be published.