The Language of Well-Being: Tracking Fluctuations in Emotion Experience Through Everyday Speech
AuthorSun, J; Schwartz, HA; Son, Y; Kern, ML; Vazire, S
Source TitleJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
PublisherAMER PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOC
AffiliationMelbourne Graduate School of Education
Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsSun, J., Schwartz, H. A., Son, Y., Kern, M. L. & Vazire, S. (2020). The Language of Well-Being: Tracking Fluctuations in Emotion Experience Through Everyday Speech. JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY, 118 (2), pp.364-387. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000244.
Access StatusOpen Access
Open Access URLAccepted version
The words that people use have been found to reflect stable psychological traits, but less is known about the extent to which everyday fluctuations in spoken language reflect transient psychological states. We explored within-person associations between spoken words and self-reported state emotion among 185 participants who wore the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR; an unobtrusive audio recording device) and completed experience sampling reports of their positive and negative emotions 4 times per day for 7 days (1,579 observations). We examined language using the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count program (LIWC; theoretically created dictionaries) and open-vocabulary themes (clusters of data-driven semantically-related words). Although some studies give the impression that LIWC's positive and negative emotion dictionaries can be used as indicators of emotion experience, we found that when computed on spoken language, LIWC emotion scores were not significantly associated with self-reports of state emotion experience. Exploration of other categories of language variables suggests a number of hypotheses about substantive everyday correlates of momentary positive and negative emotion that can be tested in future studies. These findings (a) suggest that LIWC positive and negative emotion dictionaries may not capture self-reported subjective emotion experience when applied to everyday speech, (b) emphasize the importance of establishing the validity of language-based measures within one's target domain, (c) demonstrate the potential for developing new hypotheses about personality processes from the open-ended words that are used in everyday speech, and (d) extend perspectives on intraindividual variability to the domain of spoken language. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
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