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Linguistic measures of psychological distance track symptoms + outcomes in psychotherapy transcripts

LIWC Research Series:


Using language to “distance” ourselves from distressing situations (i.e., by talking less about ourselves and the present moment) can help us manage emotions. Here, we translate this basic research to discover that such “linguistic distancing” is a replicable measure of mental health in a large set of therapy transcripts (N = 6,229). Additionally, clustering techniques showed that language alone could identify participants who differed on both symptom severity and treatment outcomes. These findings lay the foundation for 1) tools that can rapidly identify people in need of psychological services based on language alone and 2) linguistic interventions that can improve mental health.


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Citation: Nook, E. C., Hull, T. D., Nock, M., & Somerville, L. (2021, August 12). Linguistic measures of psychological distance track symptom levels and treatment outcomes in a large set of psychotherapy transcripts. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2114737119