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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 20-Jan-19

 


Sunday 20-January-19

The words we use betray our beliefs, values and overall personality

Yarkoni (2010) looked at nearly 700 blogs, each with an average of 115,000 words, and analyzed them for the type of words used, correlating these with the answers given to Big Five personality tests. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the words used in the blogs matched those suggested by the personality test results. Some of the results found that:

  • Bloggers who scored highly on the personality dimension of neuroticism also tended to use more words associated with negative emotions. They also were more ironic and were less inviting.
  • Bloggers who scored highly on the dimension of extraversion used more words associated with positive motions. They also talked more about drinks and less about computers.
  • Those who were high in agreeability used more words related to socializing and avoided swearing. They also used words like 'wonderful'.
  • Those higher in conscientiousness used more achievement-related words. They used more words like 'completed' and less like 'boring'.

Perhaps oddly, there was little direct correlation for openness, though people scoring highly in this personality dimension used more prepositions, longer words and generally more formal language. Also oddly, they talked more about ink.

This could also a bit surprising, as we are often told that online, people project their idealized self rather than being natural. Maybe what was happening was that their subtle choices of words were more unconscious and hence less affected by conscious intent. This is a useful note when listening to other people, especially when you think they may be lying or in HR related interviews at work. The real person may be spotted by listening and watching for unconscious clues not only in body language but also in the spoken word.

Reference:
Yarkoni, T. (2010). Personality in 100,000 Words: A large-scale analysis of personality and word use among bloggers. Journal of Research in Personality, 44, 3, 363-373


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