Cognition - Detailed Descriptions of Measures

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Analytical Thinking:

This measure reflects the degree to which language is structured, hierarchical, or relates to complex problem solving and higher order executive functioning. A high score suggests language is more formal, logical, hierarchical and strategic. A low score suggests more informal, here-and-now, and narrative language.

Examples:

High-scoring sentence:

“There seems to be an issue with our solution - we should contact the team to discuss."

Low-scoring sentence:

“I’m really concerned for my friend’s dog, I don't think he’s doing so well.”

Details:

The Analytical Thinking category indicates the degree to which language shows markers of deliberate, structured, and complex thinking. Lower levels of Analytical Thinking is indicative of less productive, less structured and less hierarchical thinking.

For example, highly analytical language is typical of scientific writing and intellectual speech. Language with lower scores on this measure is typically seen in highly social environments, such as casual gatherings among friends.

A drop from baseline in the Analytical Thinking style of an individual is highly correlated with significant events in that individual’s personal life, especially in the case of negative events. A significant event will disrupt pre-existing cognitive patterns, and lead to a temporarily less structured way of thinking and communicating. With finite mental resources available, when increased mental energy is dedicated to coping, less mental energy is available for higher-level thinking.

Examples of related research:

There is a vast body of research examining Analytical Thinking and behaviour. For example, researchers have used this measure to investigate the relationship between higher grades and graduation rates in university settings, the speech of political leaders, long-term language trends in our politics and culture, and the helpfulness of online customer reviews, and much more.

Cognitive Load:

Cognitive Load is a measure of the automatic cognitive processes involved with paying attention, learning, and processing the environment. A high score indicates a greater effort directed toward attention, thinking and problem-solving, and can also suggest that elevated or unnecessary attentional demands are being imposed on an individual, thus making the task of processing information more difficult. A low score suggests that attentional demands are less burdensome and more manageable.

Examples:

High-scoring sentence:

“I realized I’ve made a mistake - could you help me with this analysis before it’s all for nothing."

Low-scoring sentence:

“I’m really happy it’s the weekend!”

Details:

The Cognitive Load category looks at the markers present in language that indicate someone is using increased mental energy to process environmental or situational stimuli. Words in this category are broad, and include certain adjectives (ie. obvious, essential, specific, etc.), verbs (ie. distinguish, suppose, consider, etc.), nouns (ie. secret, question, findings, etc), that reflect increased levels of cognitive processing.

When individuals are trying to understand the world around them, they often use words that demonstrate this behaviour. If this mental processing is continuous or rigorous, it can increase an individual’s Cognitive Load. This increase can occur due to the complexity or format of a task, time pressure, a significant event or change that impacts them, and other factors. Elevated attentional demands can have a significant and negative impact on analytical thinking, decision-making, and one’s ability to carry out complex mental tasks.

In combination with other measures, such as Social Dynamics, this category can be immensely helpful in understanding how individuals process the world around them.

Examples of related research:

There is extensive research examining Cognitive Load, behaviour, and language. For example, researchers investigating Cognitive Load have shown that it can play a role in physicians’ decision-making, lead to more risk-averse behaviour, cause more impatience with money, and has a relationship with lying and deception.

Causation:

This category looks at the degree to which a person is engaged in causal thinking, or understanding the relationship between a cause and its effect. A high score suggests significant causal thinking or focus on understanding the relationship between a cause and its effect. A low score reflects little-to-no causal thinking or minimal attention on understanding the relationship between a cause and its effect.

Examples:

High-scoring sentence:

“Their influence caused a major change in the organization."

Low-scoring sentence:

“I think we need to take a left turn at the next stop.”

Details:

The Causation category includes language associated with the cause and effect of an action (ie. change, create, initiate, solve, etc). Individuals may also use more Causation words when dealing with an unexpected or surprising situation.

Examples of related research:

For example, some research has shown that the presence of Causation and Insight words when describing a past event could suggest that an individual is actively reappraising the event, and possibly shifting their feelings or thoughts towards it.

Certainty:

This measure looks at the degree to which a person is using language that reflects concepts such as certainty, specificity, and completeness - with the intention of persuading themselves or someone else that something is true. A high score suggests a significant focus on persuading themselves or someone else that something is true, whereas a low score suggests little-to-no intention of persuading themselves or someone else that something is true.

Examples:

High-scoring sentence:

“I’m absolutely sure that you’ll gain confidence in the unambiguity of the facts provided."

Low-scoring sentence:

“I don’t think I know where I’m going.”

Details:

The Certainty category evaluates a range of certain adjectives (ie. complete, apparent, undeniable, etc.) and adverbs (ie. confidently, absolutely, definitely, etc.) relating to Certainty and specificity.

Examples of related research:

Researchers have used the Certainty measure to examine many important behaviours, such as risk propensity, dogmatism, extremism, and more.

Comparison:

This category looks at the degree to which language is being used to compare one entity with another. A high score suggests a significant amount of language being used to compare one entity to another, whereas a low score suggests little-to-no language being used to compare one entity to another.

Examples:

High-scoring sentence:

“The streets became emptier after midnight."

Low-scoring sentence:

“How did you do on your exam?”

Details:

This category evaluates certain adjectives (ie. cleanest, wittiest, newest, etc.) and prepositions (ie. before, after, etc.) that are used to compare one or more entities to each other.

Differentiation:

This measure looks at the degree to which language is being used to distinguish between entities, people, or ideas. A high score suggests that a significant amount of language is being used to distinguish between entities, people, or ideas. A low score in this category suggests little-to-no language is being used to distinguish between entities, people, or ideas.

Examples:

High-scoring sentence:

“Without that distinction, I actually can’t tell them apart.”

Low-scoring sentence:

“I don't think that’s true.”

Details:

The Differentiation category includes certain verbs (ie. differ, hasn’t, can’t), adverbs (ie. actually, differently, exclusively, etc.), conjunctions (ie. unless, although, whereas, etc.), and other language related to difference and contrast. While the Differentiation and Discrepancy categories are similar, Discrepancy is typically used to point out inconsistencies, while Differentiation is typically used to discern among the qualities of two or more items.

Discrepancy:

This measure looks at the degree to which a person is comparing or articulating the difference between a current state with an alternative state, as often seen in expressions of inferiority, desires, or expectations. A low score suggests significant language is being used to articulate the difference between a current state with an alternative state, whereas a low score suggests little-to language is being used for this purpose.

Examples:

High-scoring sentence:

“I could’ve suspected that his mistake would become a liability.”

Low-scoring sentence:

“I really love when the snow falls at night.”

Details:


The Discrepancy category includes certain adjectives (ie. abnormal, lacking, unnecessary, etc.), adverbs (ie. normally, hopefully, etc.), and verbs (ie. mustn’t, shouldn’t, ought, etc.) related to concepts of inconsistency and deviation. While the Differentiation and Discrepancy categories are similar, Discrepancy is used to point out inconsistencies, while Differentiation is used to discern among the qualities of two or more objects or concepts.

Insight:

This measure looks at the degree to which a person is focused on understanding, insight, or gaining clarity into themselves, someone else, or an entity. A high score suggests a significant focus on gaining understanding, insight, or clarity, whereas a low score suggests little-to-no focus on gaining understanding, insight, or clarity.

Examples:

High-scoring sentence:

“Forgive me, I don’t understand your logic.”

Low-scoring sentence:

“Can you help me prepare dinner later?”

Details:

Words in the Insight category are broad, and include certain verbs (ie. accepted, comprehend, define, etc.), nouns (ie. solution, reflection, complexity, etc.), and adjectives (ie. perspective, question, etc.) related to understanding.

Examples of related research:

Some examples of research have shown that the presence of Insight and Causation words when describing a past event could suggest that an individual is actively reappraising the event, and possibly shifting their feelings or thoughts towards it.

Tentative:

This measure looks at the degree to which a person is signalling uncertainty or using non-definitive or hedging language. A high score in this category suggests significant signalling of uncertainty or use of non-definitive or hedging language. A low score suggests little-to-no signalling of uncertainty or use of non-definitive or hedging language.

Examples:

High-scoring sentence:

“I’m still hesitant, but I suppose we can make an informed assumption.”

Low-scoring sentence:

“There’s no way we can lose.”

Details:

The Tentative measure includes certain adverbs (ie. approximately, hopefully, etc.), verbs (ie. guess, depending, etc.), and adjectives (ie. indefinite, vague, etc.) related to non-definitive or hedging behaviour. For example, women and individuals who are lower in status can sometimes use more hedging language than men or those in positions of power.

Examples of related research:

Some researchers have used this measure in examining the relationship between language markers and grandiose narcissism.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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