Psychological Aspects of Natural Language Use: Our Words, Our Selves

James W. Pennebaker, Matthias R. Mehl, Kate G. Niederhoffer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1607 Scopus citations


The words people use in their daily lives can reveal important aspects of their social and psychological worlds. With advances in computer technology, text analysis allows researchers to reliably and quickly assess features of what people say as well as subtleties in their linguistic styles. Following a brief review of several text analysis programs, we summarize some of the evidence that links natural word use to personality, social and situational fluctuations, and psychological interventions. Of particular interest are findings that point to the psychological value of studying particles - parts of speech that include pronouns, articles, prepositions, conjunctives, and auxiliary verbs. Particles, which serve as the glue that holds nouns and regular verbs together, can serve as markers of emotional state, social identity, and cognitive styles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-577
Number of pages31
JournalAnnual review of psychology
StatePublished - 2003


  • Artificial intelligence
  • Discourse
  • LIWC
  • Particles
  • Pronouns
  • Text analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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