“This is not a replacement for people or human contact,” said the designer Albert Lee of his new creation, an app called Emojiary. I wanted to believe him.
Every day you get a text from the Emojiary bot. It asks how you’re doing. You write it back, texting out your most visceral feelings, and it accepts them without judgment. At least, none that I was able to sense.
Though, it makes sense. There is a lot of research on the health benefits of introspective writing of the sort you do when keeping a journal (the term journaling just never felt okay to me). Earlier this year I talked with Qian Lu, director of the culture and health research center at the University of Houston, where she looks at psychosocial and cultural influences on health. She did a study recently where she asked breast cancer patients to do expressive writing and found improvement in several health metrics, including levels of stress and positive affect, and overall quality of life.
Another study of introspective writing showed effectiveness in reducing severity of irritable bowel syndrome.
Lu’s work, like Lee’s, was inspired by a paradigm they attribute to the work of James Pennebaker, who is now chair of the department of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, on the link between linguistic expression and health outcomes. In the 1980s he asked people to write about feelings related to a stressful event for 20 minutes and saw improvements in physical health after just a few sessions.
Read the whole story: The Atlantic