What use of pronouns reveals about personality

The Boston Globe:

The way in which we use pronouns like I, you, or him — or choose not to use them — reveals quite a bit about our personalities but not necessarily in the ways we might think. That’s the premise of a new book, The Secret Life of Pronouns, by psychologist James Pennebaker, which hits bookstores on August 30 and draws some surprising conclusions.

Favoring the word “I” in sentences, for example, doesn’t mean a person is a narcissist but rather reflects self awareness and self monitoring. “Women use I at much higher rates than men,” said Pennebaker who chairs the psychology department at the University of Texas at Austin and has conducted research on the use of pronouns in language. “Women probably pay more attention to their body and emotions and are more likely to pop in an I to personalize what they’re saying.”

President Obama, on the other hand, uses the pronoun I less than other presidents when speaking off the cuff to reporters, which Pennebaker said reflects his self confidence — and his sense of emotional detachment. “Compared to other presidents like Bush and Clinton, he uses active verbs at high rates and pronouns at low rates during his press conferences,” said Pennebaker.

Read the whole story: The Boston Globe

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