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How Language Impacts the Popularity and Ratings of TED Talks

TED talks are an exceptional platform where diverse speakers share new ideas and research with a global audience. In this study, we sought to explore how language influences the popularity and viewer ratings of these talks, and how linguistic style and ratings vary between academics and non-academics.

To accomplish this, researchers analyzed the transcripts of 1,866 TED talks using LIWC, correlating eight language variables with the number of views and viewer ratings. Their findings revealed that talks with more analytical language received fewer views, while a greater use of the pronoun "I," positive emotion, and social words was associated with more views. These characteristics were also linked with more emotional viewer ratings, such as inspiring or courageous.

When comparing talks by academics and non-academics, the researchers found no difference in overall popularity. However, viewers rated talks by academics as more fascinating, informative, and persuasive, while non-academics received higher emotional ratings.

These results offer valuable insights into the social influence processes at play during TED talks. The implications of these findings could help shape the way we present new ideas and research in a way that resonates with a broader audience.

Read the paper: What makes an idea worth spreading? Language markers of popularity in TED talks by academics and other speakers

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