Field of Science

You are what you say

I recently received an email forward about According to its promoters

AnalyzeWords help reveal your personality by looking at how you use words. It is based on good scientific research connecting word use to who people are.
The way the site works is that you enter in someone's Twitter handle and the site analyzes their tweets.

The forward included the following comment from someone from whom, indirectly, I got the email, saying "So far it says everyone I've looked at (people, journals, etc) is depressed, except for an account someone set up to chronicle his battle with cancer, which it classified as 'very upbeat'." I tried a handle or two myself and got similar results.

One possible conclusion is that everyone -- or, at least, everyone who uses Twitter -- is depressed. Or the theory behind the website doesn't actually work. I found a possible hint in favor of the latter hypothesis on AnalyzeWords' "The Science Behind AnalyzeWords" page:

Across dozens of studies, junk words [closed-class words like prepositions and pronouns] have proven to be powerful markers of peoples [sic] psychological states. When individuals use the word I, for example, they are briefly paying attention to themselves. People experiencing high levels of physical or mental pain automatically orient towards themselves and begin using I-words at higher rates. I-use, then, can reflect signs of depression, stress or insecurity.
Perhaps. Or perhaps they're using Twitter to talk about themselves and their latest experiences.

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