Study: Americans more negative on Twitter

Words commonly used by Americans on Twitter.
Words commonly used by Americans on Twitter.
Image: Bryor Snefjella, Daniel Schmidtke
The stereotypes are all too familiar: Canadians are polite. Americans are abrupt, aggressive and even negative.

     But a recent study finds that Canadians do have a gentle way about them -- at least on Twitter. Linguistic experts from McMaster University in Ontario studied word use with the popular social media website. Looking at nearly 40 million tweets, they found that Canadians tend to be polite, while Americans are pushy.
    Canadians were more positive when using Twitter, and their tweets reflected it. They most often used these words: great, thanks, good, amazing and happy. Americans were more likely to use these words: hate, miss, mad, feel, swear and tired.
    Canadians also preferred emoticons, defined by Encyclopedia Britannca as "punctuation marks, letters and numbers used to create pictorial icons that generally display an emotion or sentiment." Americans were more likely to use emojis--pictographs of faces, objects and symbols.
    But is it true that Canadians are nicer than Americans? Not necessarily, according to Bryor Snefjella, the lead author of the study and graduate student in the Reading Lab in McMaster’s Department of Linguistics and Languages.
    He points out that other studies have demonstrated that such stereotypes are inaccurate. Instead, the team concludes that  "Canadians and Americans may create their national character stereotype through their language use," the school's website explains.
    The research, published in the journal PLOS One, is: "National character stereotypes mirror language use: A study of Canadian and American tweets," by Bryor Snefjella et al. 


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