Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for September 10th, 2011

What is revealed by one’s writing

leave a comment »

Fascinating article in New Scientist by James Pennebaker. (He’s the guy who developed an effective way of treating traumatic stress, unlike CSID, which turns out to be damaging—see Redirect, by Timothy Wilson.) It begins:

STOP for a moment and think about your most recent conversation, email, tweet or text message. Perhaps you think you said something about dinner plans, domestic chores or work. And you probably did. But at the same time, you said much more. The precise words you used revealed more about you than you can imagine.

Hidden inside language are small, stealthy words that can reveal a great deal about your personality, thinking style, emotional state and connections with others. These words account for less than 0.1 per cent of your vocabulary but make up more than half of the words commonly used. Your brain is not wired to notice them but if you pay close attention, you will start to see their subtle power.

I’m a social psychologist whose interest in these words came about almost accidentally. In the early 1980s, I stumbled on a finding that fascinated me. People who reported having a traumatic experience and who kept the experience a secret had far more health problems than people who talked openly. Why would keeping a secret be so unhealthy? If you asked people to write about their secrets, would their health improve? The answer, I soon discovered, was yes.

As part of this work, we developed a computer program to analyse the language people used when they wrote about traumas. We made numerous discoveries using this tool, such as the value of using words associated with positive emotions.

However, our most striking discovery was not about the content of people’s writing but the style. In particular, we found that the use of pronouns – I, me, we, she, they – mattered enormously. The more people changed from using first-person singular pronouns (I, me, my) to using other pronouns (we, you, she, they) from one piece of writing to the next, the better their health became. Their word use reflected their psychological state.

This was the prelude to a more substantial discovery that has become my life’s work. I found myself reading endless reams of text to analyse language style. For example, I wondered if there were any gender distinctions and found that yes, there were significant differences.

As I played with more and more words, certain patterns kept recurring. Not only was gender a factor, there were large differences in language style as a function of people’s age, social class, emotional state, level of honesty, personality, degree of formality, leadership ability, quality of relationships and so on. Word use was associated with almost every dimension of social psychology I studied.

I’m now convinced that by understanding language style, we gain a far clearer sense of the social and psychological processes affecting our behaviours.

What do I mean by style? . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 September 2011 at 5:25 pm

Being list-productive

leave a comment »

Being list-productive is what The Eldest calls the busy activity of updating and consolidating one’s lists of things to do. You can spend a fair amount of time doing this and end by feeling a sense of accomplishment, though the number of items to do is the same. (This can be remedied by including an item “Review and consolidate to-do lists” which can then be checked off when you’re done.)

Lifehacker tackles the list problem head-on, with a variety of software tools.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 September 2011 at 1:20 pm

Posted in Daily life, Software

Frank Shaving & Woods of Windsor

with 3 comments

Sorry about the bad brush placement. That’s a new Frank Shaving brush, very reasonably priced (though they just raised prices $10). This first use wasn’t bad, though I still feel I have work work harder to get lather from it. I’ll continue to use it, though, and do some side by side comparisons with other brushes. It is certainly reasonably priced, though.

A good lather, withal, from the Woods of Windsor. Phil of Bullgoose Shaving writes (on the forum) that Woods has just changed its formulation: from tallow (old) to non-tallow (new). Mine is old—quite old—so it’s a tallow soap. The Woods puck is quite thick but of narrow diameter (compared to most pucks), but the Marvy mug has a ring in the bottom just right to grip the puck.

Three enjoyable passes with the Eclipse holding a Swedish Gillette blade—I read a comment somewhere that said the Eclipse wasn’t all that good a razor, but for me it’s an excellent razor and shaves extremely well. Just more proof of the YMMV nature of shaving.

A finish with Saint Charles Shave’s high-methol aftershave. I really like her aftershaves, which share an interesting “feel”—hard to describe, but distinctive.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 September 2011 at 9:23 am

Posted in Shaving

%d bloggers like this: