Frequent Use Of ‘Really,’ ‘Very’ And ‘Incredibly’ In Speech Indicate Your Stress Levels, Study Says


Adverbs can determine if one is stressed or not. It was discovered that frequent appearance of certain words like “really” and “incredibly” in one’s speech is indicative of exhaustion or having high levels of stress.

Likewise, individuals who find themselves saying the above-mentioned words more frequently may already need to take a break because the way they talk suggest that they are stressed out.

According to a research published on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), trouble in sleeping and inability to focus are not the only leading warning signs of stress. It was discovered that the words a person chooses in his or her speech say more about their stress levels.

A team of American researchers found that speech patterns could be a good indicator of stress and this method is better compared to people’s self-assessment of having anxiety, feeling depressed or stressed out. The study further states that using such “function words” is pretty much accurate signs of stress levels.

Matthias Mehl, a psychologist at the University of Arizona, said that the words by themselves may not have meaning but they clarify what is going on. Moreover, the use of language in determining stress is better than self-assessment because the response is automatic rather than consciously.


In the study, researchers based their findings on voice recordings of 143 participants. The authors made them wear the audio recorder for two days and it yielded 22,000 voice records that were subsequently transcribed and studied.

The volunteers’ language patterns were analyzed and the research authors specifically look out for “function words” used. They found that people exhibiting the biological symptoms of stress talked less overall, but when they did speak up they were more likely to overuse words such as “really” and “incredibly.”

Scientists also noted that the research participants would rather use the pronouns “me” and “mine” than “them” and “their,” and this could mean that stressed people have a self-absorbed worldview when they are pressured.

“When we analyze people’s use of function words, we can get a sense of their emotional state and personality, and their age and social class,” James Pennebaker, a psychologist who worked with Mehl, told the Harvard Business Review.

Finally, Matthias Mehl said that more research is needed so they can fully figure out why there is a connection between stress and choice of words. Nonetheless, the researcher encourages medical experts to listen and observe their patients with regards to how they express themselves because they may find clues of what they are actually trying to say.

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