On Positivity Bias in Negative Reviews

Madhusudhan Aithal Mahabhaleshwara and Chenhao Tan.
In Proceedings of the Joint Conference of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (ACL-IJCNLP 2021) (short paper).

Prior work has revealed that positive words occur more frequently than negative words in human expressions, which is typically attributed to positivity bias, a tendency for people to report positive views of reality. But what about the language used in negative reviews? Consistent with prior work, we show that English negative reviews tend to contain more positive words than negative words, using a variety of datasets. We reconcile this observation with prior findings on the pragmatics of negation, and show that negations are commonly associated with positive words in negative reviews. Furthermore, in negative reviews, the majority of sentences with positive words express negative opinions based on sentiment classifiers, indicating some form of negation.

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negative reviews have many positive words, but they tend to follow negations.

     author = {Madhusudhan Aithal and Chenhao Tan},
     title = {On Positivity Bias in Negative Reviews},
     year = {2021},
     booktitle = {Proceedings of ACL (short papers)}