‘Give’ Gives Way as Word Usage Reflects Shift in Values

Pacific Standard:

Remember those studies showing that books in recent decades have increasingly used words and phrases connoting self-absorption? Well, newly published research puts that troubling trend into a more comforting context.

An analysis by psychologist Patricia Greenfield of the University of California-Los Angeles finds this trend can be traced back at least 200 years. And rather than suggesting our moral failings, it reflects a changing set of attitudes and priorities as Americans (and Brits) left the farm for the city.

“The currently discussed rise in individualism is not something recent, but has been going on for centuries as we moved from a predominantly rural, low-tech society to a predominantly urban, high-tech society,” she said. “This research shows that there has been a two-century-long historical shift toward individualistic psychological functioning adapted to an urban environment.”

Read the whole story: Pacific Standard

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