Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How Powerful Are Those Words?

I read about a really interesting study recently that could have a big impact on the way we write…and the way we live.
According to this study, a group of people were shown a video of a car accident. Then, a week later, the group was broken up into two smaller groups and asked to describe the crash. Specifically, group A was asked to describe how the cars “hit” each other, while group B was asked to describe how the cars “smashed” into each other.
The members of group A gave general, straight to the point descriptions of what they saw. Group B, on the other hands, gave vivid descriptions of the accident and even “remembered” details that were not in the original video.
Why? Simply because the word “smashed” stirs the mind much more than the word “hit.” This is true in so many instances. For example, the word “smacked” has almost an audible feeling to it. The work “yanked” has a much more violent sound than the word “pulled.” Even words like “stumbled” creates a better picture when compared to a simpler word like “fell.”
This is so important for writers to remember! It can enable us to create a great image in our reader’s mind with just a word, instead of having to ramble through a long sentence.
Of course, the application to real life is just as powerful, because the words we use day to day really impact us. For example, when we apply phrases like, “This day is going to kill me!” we are actually making the day even harder. The circumstances probably won’t kill us, but our mind is now convinced that we won’t be able to handle what we have to deal with. It has been proven that people who say things like, “This is hard, but I’m sure I can handle it,” actually deal better with life. Strange, but true. :)
So, whether you’re writing or just living, what words are you using today?


Anonymous said...

A word is a terrible thing to waste.

It's all about perspective.

Great post!

Emily Ann Benedict said...

Good way of putting it! ;)
Thanks. :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

Thank you!
I agree!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Excellent post! Words have power beyond imagination. :-)

arlee bird said...

Interesting study-- wonder if they did any other word comparisons.
It's kind of like the objective journalistic approach compared to the creative literary approach.
Blogging From A to Z April Challenge

Diane said...

Interesting! The power of words, right?!?!?! :O)


Emily Ann Benedict said...

Words really have an awesome power, including the ability to tap into the imagination. :)

True, that might be the difference between journalism and fiction.
Journalist want to tell you a fact, while fiction writers are trying to get you actually experience what they are talking about. :)

septembermom said...

Very interesting. I like to use "impact" words in my poetry because I do see the power certain words can convey. Great post to get us thinking :)

L. E. Neighbour said...

Yup I agree muchly. I've never had problems using more descriptive words. I've always loved playing around with words and trying to find *the* perfect word. Though sometimes it is difficult... I guess it depends on what I'm writing ;)

Karen Lange said...

This is interesting, Emily. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Karen said...

Emily, great post. When I write many times I don't think about that. Thanks for the reminder.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Emily Ann -

Fascinating study! The Bible says that the power of life and death is in the tongue. Sad to say, I've watched people talk themselves into an early grave.


Victoria Dixon said...

This is a great topic. It sometimes drives me nuts when I stop myself mid-sentence to edit, but maybe I should do it more often. ;D

Emily Ann Benedict said...

The idea really does get one thinking more about words. Sometimes in the middle of writing its hard to stop and think about the little words, but they mean so much in the end.

Great point, Susan! Some of my favorite sermons are on the power of word. :D

alicia said...

Great perspective! We use words everyday so why not use them for positive energy rather than negative energy.

Lydia Kang said...

Words are so powerful. I do think more carefully about what I say and how I say it now that I'm writing more.
Cool study!

Jill Kemerer said...

Interesting! I love reading studies like this. Thanks for sharing!

Deborah Ann said...

I love how God created us just like Him. We create the world around us with our words, just like He did. If we keep our words happy and positive, we will BE happy and positive!

Rita's Random Ramblings said...

Emily, thank you for this wonderful article! Words, thought, spoken or written, are truly powerful! Hugs, Rita

Brianna said...

WOW, great post! I'm always trying to find the "perfect" word when I'm writing to help my readers vividly experience the scene I'm writing. It's all a matter of beefing up nouns and verbs instead of overloading sentences with adverbs and adjectives. ;-)