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Richard P. Meier, Chair CLA 4.304, Mailcode B5100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-1701

Colloquium - James Pennebaker (UT Austin - Psychology) "Using words to understand psychological state"

Mon, December 3, 2012 • 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM • CAL 100

Abstract:  The most forgettable words in English -- pronouns, articles, and other function words -- provide rich reflections of people's social behaviors, thinking strategies, and personality.  Using fairly simple word counting methodologies, we have found that function words can detect honesty, emotional state, social relationships, leadership, and academic performance.  The findings suggest that function word use tends to reflect psychological state rather than guide it.  Nevertheless, it is possible to harness the ways groups use function words in natural conversations and train the participants to work more effectively with one another. Implications for real world applications will be discussed.

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