Writing Analysis Goes Beyond Parts of Speech
For a long time, psychologists have known that the way that individuals talk and write provides an accurate insight into their mental and emotional worlds. This has been confirmed by modern research via lots of movie review essay in particular that has shown that there is a direct correlation between the words people use and their health.
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Content and Process
The research has also thrown up something interesting: traditionally, attention was placed on “content” words, the adjectives, adverbs, nouns and regular verbs. It appears that the little “process” words, the articles, conjunctions, prepositions and pronouns are just as significant, perhaps because they are responsible for how something is expressed. Content words tell us what a person is saying.
You often hear people say, “It’s not what you say but how you say it that matters,” and this is reflected in the research. How something is expressed can give a strong indication of someone’s emotional and mental state. And because our reaction to the “how” is influenced by our cultural background, our own emotional and mental state and our own use of these words, use and interpretation of the process words requires speaking or writing skills and a degree of sensitivity.
What can writing an analysis of words tell us about people?
There are social and demographic differences when using process words, for example:
- Age. As we age, we tend to refer to ourselves less and use more words relating to positive emotions. With age, we also tend to use the past tense less frequently and the future tense more often.
- Gender. Analysis of writing reveals that men are more likely to use articles, prepositions, and longer words. On the other hand, women tend to refer to other people more frequently than men do and use more pronouns.
- Social class. Those from more elevated levels of society use fewer emotional words and are less inclined to use the first person singular form of pronoun.
Some behavioral changes
- Lying vs telling the truth. When people tell the truth, they use words that make a distinction between what they did do and what they did not do, words such as but except etc.. Liars generally have a problem with such complex concepts.
- Social bonding after a trauma. In the time immediately following a traumatic event, those involved use “I” less frequently, preferring the more inclusive “we”.
- Testosterone levels. In two recent case studies, when people’s testosterone levels increased rapidly, it was found that they stopped their references to other people.
So, the little process words are very important, yet often neglected. In addition, it can be a chore for writers to have to analyze all that they have written. This is where Smartessay can help you; click here to find out more about our language analysis service.