empirical \ im-ˈpir-i-kəl , em- \ adjective
1. derived from experiment and observation rather than theory
2. able to be verified by experiment or observation
The word empirical has appeared in 83 articles on NYTimes.com in the past year, including on Feb. 27 in “How to Write a Gratitude Letter” by Gina Hamadey:
There are two excellent reasons for writing a gratitude letter: It will make you feel really good, and it will make the recipient feel great. Among the research showing the benefits of letter writing is a study led by Indiana University and published in 2016 in the journal Psychotherapy Research and led by Indiana University, which tested whether gratitude writing helps people seeking psychotherapy. Scientists randomly assigned the 293 participants to three groups: Those receiving psychotherapy, those receiving psychotherapy and participating in expressive writing, or those receiving psychotherapy and participating in gratitude-letter writing. Even in the small study, participants in the gratitude group reported significantly better mental health than the other two groups, even three months after the trial ended.
… The main barrier to expressing gratitude in a sentimental letter, he said, is the perceived awkwardness. “Part of the reason we did this research — the hope, at least — is that we will encourage people to do this more often,” Mr. Kumar said. “If you know from empirical research that it’s not actually as awkward as you think, and that it will mean a great deal to the person, maybe that can help you get over that hurdle.”
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