Identifying Linguistic Markers of More and Less Supportive Conversations

LIWC Research Series:

Although the functions of messages varying in verbal person centeredness (PC) are well-established, we know less about the linguistic content that differentiates messages with distinct levels of PC. This study examines the lexicon of different levels of PC comfort and seeks to ascertain whether computerized analysis can complement human coders when coding supportive conversations. Transcripts from support providers trained to enact low, moderate, or high levels of PC were subjected to the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) dictionary. Results reveal that several categories in the LIWC dictionary vary systematically as a function of conversational PC level. LIWC categories, particularly pronouns, social process, cognitive process, anxiety, and anger words, reliably predict which level of the PC hierarchy an interaction represents based on whether a conversation was designed to be high, moderate, or low in PC. The implications are discussed in the context of the lexicon of conversations that vary in PC.

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Cannava, K. E., High, A. C., Jones, S. M., & Bodie, G. D. (2018). The Stuff That Verbal Person-Centered Support Is Made of: Identifying Linguistic Markers of More and Less Supportive Conversations. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 37(6), 656–679.