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James Pennebaker

James Pennebaker

Regents Centennial Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin

James W. Pennebaker is the Regents Centennial Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. He is an internationally recognized scholar in the study of computerized text analysis, personality, and social behavior. Whereas his early research demonstrated how coping methods such as expressive writing affected mental and physical health among employees and other groups, his current work uses computerized text analysis methods to understand people’s social and psychological intentions and behaviors. Author or editor of 10 books and over 300 scientific articles, Pennebaker has received several university and international awards for his research and teaching. His most recent books are The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us (Bloomsbury, 2011) and Opening Up by Writing it Down (Guilford, 2016). He is founder and CEO of Pennebaker Conglomerates which developed and sells a research-based text analysis program (, and co-founder and Chief Scientist of, a Toronto-based commercial company that uses text analytic methods for business solutions. Pennebaker consults with major organizations such as Microsoft and AT&T, as well as federal agencies associated with national security and health care.

Track: Emerging Analytics

Monday, April 15, 1:50–2:40pm

Analyzing Everyday Language to Understand People

The words people use in everyday language reveal parts of their social and psychological thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. An increasing number of studies demonstrate that the analysis of the most common and forgettable words in English — such as pronouns (I, she, he), articles (a, an, the), and prepositions (to, of, for) — can signal honesty and deception, engagement, threat. status, intelligence, and other aspects of personality and social behaviors. The social psychology of language goes beyond machine learning and, instead, identifies the underlying links between word use and thinking styles. Implications for using text analysis to understand and connect with customers, employees, managers, friends, and even yourself will be discussed.