Wordwatchers

I’ve been faithfully reading Dr. James W. Pennebaker’s wordwatchers blog since reading Jessica Warner’s October 13, 2008 New York Times article “He Counts Your Words (Even Those Pronouns).”

The intriguing blog “explores how we can learn about the candidates’ personalities, motives, emotions, and inner selves through their everyday words.”

As a MIT nerd, I’m fascinated.

Research over the past several decades have proven that “the ways that individuals talk and write provide windows into their emotional and cognitive worlds.”

Dr. Pennebaker invented a software program, Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC, pronounced luke), to compare text samples to its vast dictionary — with each word assigned to one or more categories (such as social words, exclusive words, religion words, and dozens of others) — outputting how many words appear in each category.

This text analysis is so telling that Pennebaker even thinks his software can identify authors of anonymous blogs and e-mail messages. I certainly believe it!

Check out the LIWC website to learn more and make some time to take a look at the wordwatchers blog before election season is over!

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