ERIC Number: ED196017
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1979-Dec
Reference Count: 0
The Pollyanna Principle in Business Writing: Initial Results, Suggestions for Research.
Hildebrandt, Herbert W.
A study was conducted to determine whether there was a linguistic correlation between a financially good year and a bad year as expressed in the annual reports of company presidents to their shareholders. Specifically the study tested the "Pollyanna Principle," which states (1) that regardless of whether the year was financially good or bad, the communication to the shareholders would be positive in tone; (2) that positive words would be more frequent in a financially good year than in a bad one; and (3) that negative words would be less frequent in a financially good year than in a bad one. A list of 356 words was compiled for determining positive and negative words in context. The list was drawn from two sources: R. B. Zajonc's list of 148 antonym pairs and 30 antonym pairs selected primarily from the business world and cited by a group of business professors as compatible with the Zajonc list. A content analysis was then conducted of 12 annual reports from a bad business year and 12 from a good year. All three tenets of the "Pollyanna Principle" were sustained. In addition, a cross-cultural study that analyzed the use of the same 356 words in translation in German annual reports revealed that Germans tended to accept the same positive words as Americans. (FL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Business Communication Association (Seattle, WA, December 27-29, 1979).