Linguistic dimensions of psychopathology: A quantitative analysis

Doerte U. Junghaenel, Joshua Morrison Smyth, Laura Santner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The present study examined differences in natural word use between psychiatric outpatients and nonclinical controls. The Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) was used to determine its utility for the study of linguistic features of psychopathology. 27 patients and 17 community volunteers engaged in a standardized writing assignment. Computerized word count was used to identify linguistic differences between the two groups. Psychiatric patients used fewer words pertaining to optimism/energy, basic cognitive mechanisms, exclusion, and bodily functions compared to the controls. They also tended to use fewer references to the future and communication. No differences were found on pronoun use, and sensation/perception. The LIWC captured features of natural word use that are of conceptual as well as empirical relevance for personality and psychopathology research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-55
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Social and Clinical Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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