Measuring Emotion in Parliamentary Debates with Automated Textual Analysis

Ludovic Rheault, Kaspar Beelen, Christopher Cochrane, Graeme Hirst, Joseph Najbauer
2016 PLoS ONE  
An impressive breadth of interdisciplinary research suggests that emotions have an influence on human behavior. Nonetheless, we still know very little about the emotional states of those actors whose daily decisions have a lasting impact on our societies: politicians in parliament. We address this question by making use of methods of natural language processing and a digitized corpus of text data spanning a century of parliamentary debates in the United Kingdom. We use this approach to examine
more » ... hanges in aggregate levels of emotional polarity in the British parliament, and to test a hypothesis about the emotional response of politicians to economic recessions. Our findings suggest that, contrary to popular belief, the mood of politicians has become more positive during the past decades, and that variations in emotional polarity can be predicted by the state of the national economy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0168843 pmid:28006016 pmcid:PMC5179059 fatcat:cecbpghksbe6bbm3yb2wnotyqa