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James Pennebaker

Episode 9, What Your Words Reveal

Your words communicate so much more than just their meaning. According to social psychologist Dr. James Pennebaker, there is important information hidden in the words you use. They can reveal whether you are telling the truth, depressed, or even predict behavior.

Beyond direct communication, everyday words are powerful predictors of human behavior, barometers of mental health, and indicators of deception. Internationally recognized researcher, author, and acclaimed professor Dr. James Pennebaker has been studying the correlation between language and human behavior for decades. The words people use on a regular basis can provide subtle clues about who they are and how they think. His research has focused on the relationship between natural language use, health, and social behavior and, most recently, how everyday language reflects basic social and personality processes.

Low level words can give clues to large scale behaviors.

Pennebaker’s research finds that simple words such as pronouns and articles can indicate age, gender, social status, personality traits, deception, and predict aggressive behavior. This information has practical applications for recuperative psychological therapy or measuring the effectiveness of teaching methods. Fueled by his findings, he developed an innovative computerized text analysis program. It has been used to forecast behaviors including the intentions of public figures. His work even has a high rate of predicting which couples will align after speed dating.

As a pioneer of writing therapy, Pennebaker’s research has uncovered links between written language use and recovery from trauma. He shares how expressive writing can help reevaluate sources of grief and trauma to put you on the path toward a positive life correction and achieve closure.

Having authored nine books and over 300 scientific articles, he is one of the most cited researchers in the field of social science. Listen to Dr. Pennebaker as he lets us in on the secrets of pronouns.

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What you’ll learn

  • What our words say about us.
  • How low level words can be predictors of human behavior.
  • How written language can be indicators of recovery from trauma.
  • Expressive writing can be a tool for emotional healing and growth.

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