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Language Use and Depression: Link Established by Meta-Analysis


In this study, researchers explore the link between first person singular pronoun use and depression. By conducting a meta-analysis of correlations between pronoun use and individual differences in depression, the study provides important insights into the theories, identification, assessment, and treatment of this mental health condition. The meta-analysis included numerous unpublished correlations, providing a more comprehensive view of the correlation between pronoun use and depression.


The results of the meta-analysis reveal a small correlation between first person singular pronoun use and depression, which is not moderated by gender or whether the effect has been published. The fixed effects analysis found a correlation of r = 0.13, 95% CI = [0.10–0.16], which is useful across demographic lines. This study firmly establishes first person singular pronoun use as a linguistic marker of depression, highlighting the importance of language in understanding and treating mental health conditions.


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