2017 AP Month Research, References and Resources

Word Power:  Communicating for connection

“Sticks and stone may break my bones but words will never harm me” goes the old adage.  Nonetheless, words have been used to initiate great harm across history and into our present day.

As parents, we’re in a unique position to help a generations of children learn to not only “use your words” but use words designed to harness the power of deep connection, understanding, healing and good.

Words fly around us in every medium imaginable and even visual media is translated into verbal and/or written expression.  We swim in a great alphabet soup.  How to make it more nourishing for all of us? Especially our children?

“Watch your language” is a well-known parenting phrase we use to prevent our young children from hearing, parroting or even intentionally using impolite or disrespectful  words. Despite our best attempts, we’ve probably all felt (or will feel) embarrassed about something our child has said, especially when we know they learned it from us.   

“Word power” begins with a bang when our children turn two and their word of the year is “no,” which, not coincidentally, mirrors our own word of the year. “Use your words” is what we say as we continue to guide our children between impulsive, full-body language to a more needs-based verbal language. Learning how to express feelings and ask for help and cooperation is a learning task that occupies parents and children across all of childhood and through life.

Over time, our children won’t mimic us as directly as when they were two, but they never stop absorbing what we say to them. They take our words deeply to heart and to the point that our words form the outlines of the fundamental belief system around which our children come to think of themselves.

Our words matter a great deal to our children even when we’re not addressing them directly. When our children hear us speaking to and about others, they absorb this into their own repertoire without awareness. This type of knowledge transfer isn’t obvious teaching-learning, but we realize it happens when we hear echoes of it in their conversations and interactions with siblings, friends and others. Sometimes we’ll find our own words directed back at us.   

Words constantly swirl around us in our adult world and they have an impact on us as well. As adults, we have the ability to choose where we direct our attention, but it can still be challenging to select for connecting and uplifting messages. Negative news sells and it’s obvious.  It’s also obvious how much easier it is to fill space with thoughtless, snarky rants and vents than to take time to write with civility, kindness, understanding and empathy.

When we aim to use and seek communications for connection, it makes a powerful difference in our mood and health.  We reap benefits, but so do our children, families, friends and others we encounter.  This kind of “word power” helps provide us with a kind of superpower – it’s not just a protective shield, but a positive energy.  This kind of “word power” is protective, but even better, it allows us to radiate positive and connective communications.      

Join us in October as we use our superpower:  “Word Power: Communicating for Connection.”

API’s AP 2017 AP Month theme centers around the reality that our words are powerful and most beneficial when we seek and use them to connect.


Resources and Research

The Center for Nonviolent Communication

Restorative Justice

The Psychology of Language: Which Words Matter the Most When We Talk


The psychology of language – psycholinguistics


The psychology of language and communications journal


Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics


Words Can Change Your Brain: 12 Conversation Strategies to Build Trust, Resolve Conflict, and Increase Intimacy


What Constant Exposure To Negative News Is Doing To Our Mental Health


The work of British psychologist Dr. Graham Davey, who specializes in the psychological effects of media violence, “Negative news can significantly change an individual’s mood — especially if there is a tendency in the news broadcasts to emphasize suffering and also the emotional components of the story,”

How the Negative News Cycle Can Impact Mental Health


The near-constant barrage of stories about disease outbreaks, war, and natural disasters are taking a toll on people who consume the news, said Dr. Mary McNaughton-Cassill, a psychologist who studies the connection between stress and the media.

  1. Holman, E. A., Garfin, D. R., and Silver, R. C. (2013). Media’s role in broadcasting acute stress following the Boston Marathon bombings. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol 111 (1), 93-98. doi:10.1073/pnas.1316265110
  1. Moeller, S. D. (1999). Compassion Fatigue: How the Media Sell Disease, Famine, War and Death. New York, NY: Routledge.
  2. Schwarzer, R. (1997). Psychosocial Notebook. Retrieved from http://www.macses.ucsf.edu/research/psychosocial/anxiety.php
  3. Szabo, A. and Hopkinson, K.L. (2007). Negative psychological effects of watching the news in the television: Relaxation or another intervention may be needed to buffer them! International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, Vol 14 (2), 57-62. doi:10.1007/BF03004169

The Psychological Effects of TV News


Online Social Networking and Mental Health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4183915/

Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks

ADI Kramer, JE Guillory… – Proceedings of the …, 2014 – National Acad Sciences


We show, via a massive (N = 689,003) experiment on Facebook, that emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. We provide experimental evidence that emotional contagion occurs without direct interaction between people (exposure to a friend expressing an emotion is sufficient), and in the complete absence of nonverbal cues.

Emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. Emotional contagion is well established in laboratory experiments, with people transferring positive and negative emotions to others. Data from a large real-world social network, collected over a 20-y period suggests that longer-lasting moods (e.g., depression, happiness) can be transferred through networks [Fowler JH, Christakis NA (2008) BMJ 337:a2338], although the results are controversial. In an experiment with people who use Facebook, we test whether emotional contagion occurs outside of in-person interaction between individuals by reducing the amount of emotional content in the News Feed. When positive expressions were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks. This work also suggests that, in contrast to prevailing assumptions, in-person interaction and nonverbal cues are not strictly necessary for emotional contagion, and that the observation of others’ positive experiences constitutes a positive experience for people.

Words affect mood

Facebook’s emotional consequences: Why Facebook causes a decrease in mood and why people still use it

C Sagioglou, T Greitemeyer – Computers in Human Behavior, 2014 – Elsevier

Emotion and language: valence and arousal affect word recognition.

V Kuperman, Z Estes, M Brysbaert… – Journal of Experimental …, 2014 – psycnet.apa.org

The role of language in the development of emotion regulation.

PM Cole, LM Armstrong, CK Pemberton – 2010 – psycnet.apa.org

[BOOK] Language as a local practice

A Pennycook – 2010 – books.google.com

Inspiring others: The language of leadership

JA Conger – The executive, 1991 – amp.aom.org

While we have learned a great deal about the necessity of strategic vision and effective leadership, we have overlooked the critical link between vision and the leader’s ability to powerfully communicate its essence. In the future, leaders will not only have to be effective strategists, but rhetoricians who can energize through the words they choose. The era of managing by dictate is ending and is being replaced by an era of managing by inspiration. Foremost among the new leadership skills demanded of this era will be the ability to craft and articulate a message that is highly motivational. Unfortunately, it seems that few business leaders and managers today possess such skills. To make matters worse, our business culture and educational system may even discourage these skills.

Conger examines why these skills are so critical and what the new language skills of leadership will be. He looks at how leaders through their choice of words, values, and beliefs can craft commitment and confidence in their company missions. He also explores the importance of rhetorical techniques such as stories, metaphors, and rhythm to generate excitement and enthusiasm about the leader’s message.

[PDF] Not all moods are created equal! exploring human emotional states in social media

MDCS Counts, M Gamon – 2012 – microsoft.com

Positive psychology of words

[HTML] Positive psychology interventions: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies

L Bolier, M Haverman… – BMC public …, 2013 – bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com


Building trust: Heart rate synchrony and arousal during joint action increased by public goods game

P Mitkidis, JJ McGraw, A Roepstorff, S Wallot – Physiology & behavior, 2015 – Elsevier

Building trust communities using social trust

S Nepal, W Sherchan, C Paris – International Conference on User …, 2011 – Springer

Knowledge sharing behavior in virtual communities: The relationship between trust, self-efficacy, and outcome expectations

MH Hsu, TL Ju, CH Yen, CM Chang – International journal of human- …, 2007 – Elsevier

Creating urban classroom communities worthy of trust

CD Ennis, MT McCauley – Journal of Curriculum Studies, 2002 – Taylor & Francis

Cultivating trust and harvesting value in virtual communities

CE Porter, N Donthu – Management Science, 2008 – pubsonline.informs.org

[PDF] Deliberative dialogue to expand civic engagement: What kind of talk does democracy need?

ML McCoy, PL Scully – National Civic Review, 2002 – ncdd.org

[BOOK] Philosophical papers: Volume 1, Human agency and language

C Taylor – 1985 – books.google.com

[BOOK] Language in the News: Discourse and Ideology in the Press

R Fowler – 2013 – books.google.com

[BOOK] Talking voices: Repetition, dialogue, and imagery in conversational discourse

D Tannen – 2007 – books.google.com

Rethinking dialogue in networked spaces

NC Burbules – Cultural Studies? Critical Methodologies, 2006 – journals.sagepub.com

Arguments, dialogue, and negotiation

L Amgoud, S Parsons, N Maudet – … of the 14th European Conference on …, 2000 – dl.acm.org

When social networking is not working individuals with low self-esteem recognize but do not reap the benefits of self-disclosure on Facebook

AL Forest, JV Wood – Psychological science, 2012 – pss.sagepub.com

Ostracism: The kiss of social death

KD Williams – Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2007 – Wiley Online Library

What’s in a frame? Surface evidence for underlying expectations

D Tannen – Framing in discourse, 1993 – books.google.com

Baby’s first words

Baby’s first 10 words.

T Tardif, P Fletcher, W Liang, Z Zhang… – Developmental …, 2008 – psycnet.apa.org

Negative words

Effects of oral cortisol treatment in healthy young women on memory retrieval of negative and neutral words

S Kuhlmann, C Kirschbaum, OT Wolf – Neurobiology of learning and …, 2005 – Elsevier

Recognition memory for emotionally negative and neutral words: An ERP study

EJ Maratos, K Allan, MD Rugg – Neuropsychologia, 2000 – Elsevier

Automatic vigilance for negative words is categorical and general.

Z Estes, JS Adelman – 2008 – psycnet.apa.org

Affective processing within 1/10th of a second: High arousal is necessary for early facilitative processing of negative but not positive words

MJ Hofmann, L Kuchinke, S Tamm, MLH Võ… – Cognitive, Affective, & …, 2009 – Springer

Attention to positive and negative social-evaluative words: Investigating the effects of social anxiety, trait anxiety and social threat

W Mansell, A Ehlers, D Clark, YP Chen – Anxiety, Stress & Coping, 2002 – Taylor & Francis

[HTML] Positive words carry less information than negative words

D Garcia, A Garas, F Schweitzer – EPJ Data Science, 2012 – Springer

Negative words Attentional bias

Optimism and attentional bias for negative and positive stimuli

SC Segerstrom – Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2001 – psp.sagepub.com


AP Month Research Archives:

2018 AP Month Research – Love Collective: Sharing Experience and Making Parenting Sweeter

2017 AP Month Research – Word Power: Communication for Connection

2016 AP Month Research – Nurturing Peace: Parenting for World Harmony

2015 AP Month Research  Parental Presence: Birthing Families, Strengthening Society

2014 AP Month Research – Cherishing Parents: Flourishing Children

2013 AP Month Research – Parenting Creatively:  The (H)Art of Parenting

2012 AP Month Research – Relax, Relate, Rejuvenate: Renewed with Parenting Support

2011 AP Month Research – Families at Play

2010 AP Month Research  – Full of Love