Spanish is the Happiest Language According to Science

And it all comes down to its abundance of joyful words.

Group of friends enjoying the outdoors.

(Jacob Lund /

Can a language condition our outlook on life? This is the conclusion of fascinating research into multiple languages that identifies Spanish as the happiest language of all due to its plethora of joyful, positive words. 

Human language skews positive!
According to the ABC Society covering news from Spain, researchers from the US and Australia worked together on a 2015 study entitled “Human language reveals a universal positivity bias.” Their stated goal was to explore the positivity of human language. To do this, the teams examined 100,000 words in ten linguistically and culturally diverse languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Brazilian Portuguese, Korean, Chinese (Simplified), Russian, Indonesian, and Arabic. 

Their next step, as reported in a travel piece in the Times of India, was to create a database of 10,000 common words in each language, later marking each word as positive or negative in connotation. According to Language Magazine, the researchers relied on teams of 50 different native speakers in each language to score these common words based on emotional resonance. These participants scored each word on a happiness scale of 1-9 based on the level of optimism it conveyed.

According to Science, rigorously testing this positivity bias in language had been difficult until recently due to a shortage in the availability of massive amounts of data in multiple languages, but the internet has made this much easier. The researchers’ analysis was able to rely on a broad range of online text resources, including social media posts, news outlets, music lyrics, books, and movie subtitles. Focusing on the social nature of language, they zoomed in on the words people most commonly use, and measured how these words are received by individuals, with word frequency taken as the primary working measure of a word’s importance.

The study is part of a larger project to build a “hedonometer”, a happiness meter tool that tracks the “happiness signals” in social media posts almost in real-time.

"Overall, our major scientific finding is that when experienced in isolation and weighted properly according to use, words, which are the atoms of human language, present an emotional spectrum with a universal, self-similar positive bias” the researchers reveal in the study.

But Spanish is the happiest language of all!
Significantly, while positivity bias is the general rule, the researchers observed differences in the happiness distribution between languages, with Spanish coming out on top in terms of joyful words. 

As the Wara -Wara Spanish learning blog reveals, the results showed that Spanish-language web pages, Spanish-language Google Books, and Spanish-language Twitter had the highest rates of positive words

The romance language of Portuguese filled the number two spot, followed by English, Indonesian, and French to round off the top five.

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