Language left behind on social media exposes the emotional and cognitive costs of a romantic breakup
By analyzing language on the social media platform Reddit, the authors of this LIWC-based study tracked people’s social, cognitive, and emotional lives as they dealt with the breakup of a close intimate relationship.
Language markers can detect impending relationship breakups up to 3 mo before they occur, with continued psychological aftereffects lasting 6 mo after the breakup. Because the language shifts are also apparent in subreddits (forums) unrelated to relationships, the research points to the pervasive impact personal upheavals have across people’s social worlds. Comparable cognitive and social effects are apparent among people undergoing divorce or dealing with major life secrets. The analysis of subtle shifts in pronouns, articles, and other almost-invisible words can reveal the psychological effects of life experiences.
Seraj, Sarah et al. “Language left behind on social media exposes the emotional and cognitive costs of a romantic breakup.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118 (2021): n. pag.