Do You Use These 3 Words? If So, Scientists Say You’re Stressed Out

In a brand new study published by the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences of the United States, research shows that stressed people overuse certain words like “very,” “incredible” and “really.”

Researchers analyzed more than 22,000 voice recordings of 143 people who put on audio recorders. They then looked at how stress influenced speech patterns. According to the study, they were especially focused on “function words,” like adjectives, adverbs and pronouns. Before going into the study, researchers hypothesized that people under stress used more of these kind of words.

One author of the study, University of Arizona psychologist Matthias Mehl, admits,“By themselves, they don’t have any meaning, but they clarify what’s going on.” Unlike “meaning words,” such as nouns and verbs which people use more consciously, function words “are produced more automatically, and they betray a bit more about what’s going on with the speaker,” says Mehl.

According to the study, people use more functional words when facing stressful situations like terrorist attacks, personal problems and other highly distressing events. Thus, words such as “really” and “incredibly” also went up during times of stress, while pronouns like “they” went down, presumably because people like to place focus on themselves when tensions are high.

Additionally, the study determined that there was a connection to 50 genes that are known to be affected by stressful situations. Put more simply, the participants whose genes showed more stress used far more function words like “very” and they talked less compared to the other participants in the study. Psychologist James Pennebaker told Nature, “It’s such an exciting new way of thinking.”

I think the future of gene expression information is only going to become more groundbreaking, especially with modern technology rapidly advancing. What are your thoughts on this new study? Do you use words like “very” and “really” often? Let us know!

— PJ Amirata

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