Date of Award

12-22-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Pascual-Leone, Antonio

Keywords

Change Process, Expressive Writing, LIWC, Word Counts

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

The current study examined the use of commonly used word categories, less commonly used word categories, and change in word use over time in an expressive writing task. A sample of 250 undergraduate students from an archival study who were still experiencing unresolved feelings wrote about a targeted distressing experience for 15 minutes on each of three consecutive days. Narratives were analyzed using the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count Program (LIWC). Results showed that six word categories predicted change in outcome, namely first-person singular pronouns, words related to causation, inhibition, certainty, past-tense verbs, and word count. Words related to cognitive processing as well as past-tense verbs changed in their usage over the three writing sessions, but their rate of change did not predict outcome. Word usage also differed by writing condition. The results confirm the importance of word categories commonly analyzed but also highlight the importance of time orientation.

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