Books reflect the economic tone of their times - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Books reflect the economic tone of their times

Updated:
© iStockphoto.com / David H. Lewis © iStockphoto.com / David H. Lewis

THURSDAY, Jan. 9, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," Dickens wrote in 1859.

And books often reflect the difficulties faced by people during tough economic periods, a new study shows.

Researchers examined 5 million English-language books from the 20th century and found that the frequency of words expressing misery and unhappiness was higher if there were difficult economic conditions in the 10 years before a book was written.

"When we looked at millions of books published in English every year and looked for a specific category of words denoting unhappiness, we found that those words in aggregate averaged the authors' economic experiences over the past decade. In other words, global economics is part of the shared emotional experience of the 20th century," study author Alex Bentley, of the University of Bristol in England, said in a university news release.

While some periods, such as the 1980s, were clearly marked by "literary misery," books from other periods were more upbeat.

"Economic misery coincides with WWI (1918), the aftermath of the Great Depression (1935) and the energy crisis (1975)," study co-author Alberto Acerbi said in the news release. "But in each case, the literary response lags by about a decade, such that authors are averaging experiences over that decade."

Bentley suggested that "perhaps this 'decade effect' reflects the gap between childhood, when strong memories are formed, and early adulthood, when authors may begin writing books."

He added, "consider for example, the dramatic increase of literary misery in the 1980s, which follows the 'stagflation' of the 1970s. Children from this generation who became authors would have begun writing in the 1980s."

The researchers also analyzed books written in German and found the same results.

The study was published Jan. 8 in the journal PLoS One.

More information

The American Psychological Association explains how to manage stress during tough economic times.

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

  • Health WatchMore>>

  • House approves VA health care overhaul

    House approves VA health care overhaul

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 9:12 PM EDT2014-07-31 01:12:40 GMT
    With a new Veterans Affairs secretary in place and an August recess looming, Congress is moving quickly to approve a compromise bill to refurbish the VA and improve veterans' health care.
    The House overwhelmingly approved a landmark bill Wednesday to help veterans avoid long waits for health care that have plagued the Veterans Affairs Department for years.
  • $1,000 Sovaldi now hepatitis treatment of choice

    $1,000 Sovaldi now hepatitis treatment of choice

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 8:58 PM EDT2014-07-31 00:58:45 GMT
    A $1,000-per-pill drug that insurers are reluctant to pay for has quickly become the treatment of choice for a liver-wasting viral disease that affects more than 3 million Americans.
    The price is sky-high, but so is demand. A new $1,000-per-pill drug has become the treatment of choice for Americans with hepatitis C, a liver-wasting disease that affects more than 3 million.
  • Deportations halted at New Mexico processing center

    Deportations halted at New Mexico processing center

    Deportations halted at New Mexico processing center

    Artesia, NM - Officials at an immigration processing center in new mexico announced they will be halting all deportations for the time being.
    Artesia, NM - Officials at an immigration processing center in new mexico announced they will be halting all deportations for the time being.
*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.