Tripti Joshi (Editor)

James W Pennebaker

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Nationality  United States
Name  James Pennebaker
Role  Psychologist

James W. Pennebaker The Secret Life of Pronouns KERA

Born  March 2, 1950 (age 65) (1950-03-02) Midland, Texas
Occupation  Regents Centennial Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin
Known for  Research in Writing Therapy and Language
Education  Eckerd College, University of Texas at Austin
Books  The Secret Life of Pronouns, Writing to heal, Opening Up: The Healing P, Handbook Of Mental Control, The psychology of physic

Ask a ut psychologist group leader james pennebaker

James W. Pennebaker (born March 2, 1950) is an American social psychologist. He is the Centennial Liberal Arts Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers. His research focuses on the relationship between natural language use, health, and social behavior, most recently "how everyday language reflects basic social and personality processes".


James W. Pennebaker Word Choice Detects Everything from Love to Lies to

Analyzing Everyday Language to Understand Social and Psychological Processes, James W Pennebaker

Education and career

Pennebaker received his B.A. from Eckerd College in 1972 with honors and his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1977.

He has held the following positions:

  • 1977–1983: Assistant Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
  • 1983–1997: Associate and Full Professor, Southern Methodist University; 1995–97: Chair of Psychology Department
  • 1997–present: Professor, University of Texas at Austin; 2005–09: Bush Regents Professor of Liberal Arts, 2005–2014: Chair of Psychology Department, 2009–present: Regents Centennial Professor of Liberal Arts
  • 2005–2010: International Research Professor, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, England.
  • Research

    Over the course of his career, Pennebaker has studied the nature of physical symptoms, health consequences of secrets, expressive writing, and natural language, and has received grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Army Research Institute, and other federal agencies for studies in language, emotion, and social dynamics.

    A pioneer of writing therapy, he has researched the link between language and recovering from trauma and been "recognized by the American Psychological Association as one of the top researchers on trauma, disclosure, and health." In particular, he finds a person's use of "low-level words", such as pronouns and articles, predictive of recovery as well as indicative of sex, age, and personality traits: "Virtually no one in psychology has realized that low-level words can give clues to large-scale behaviors."

    In the mid-1990s, he and colleagues developed the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC; pronounced "Luke"), a computerized text analysis program that outputs the percentage of words in a given text that fall into one or more of over 80 linguistic (e.g., first-person singular pronouns, conjunctions), psychological (e.g., anger, achievement), and topical (e.g., leisure, money) categories. It builds on previous research establishing strong links between linguistic patterns and personality or psychological state, but makes possible far more detailed results than did hand counts. Pennebaker and associates have used this tool to analyze the language of Al Qaeda leaders and of political candidates, particularly in the 2008 United States presidential election. He blogs with associates on what linguistic analysis says about political leaders, at Wordwatchers: Tracking the language of public figures, and Pennebaker Conglomerates, Inc. offers free LIWC-based text analysis tools online, including a language style matching calculator and a language-based application of the Thematic Apperception Test.

    In January of 2017, Pennebaker was one of the speakers in the Linguistic Society of America's inaugural Public Lectures on Language series.


  • The Psychology of Physical Symptoms. New York: Springer, 1982. ISBN 978-0-387-90730-7
  • (Ed., with Daniel M. Wegner) Handbook of Mental Control. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1993. ISBN 978-0-13-379280-5
  • Emotion, Disclosure, and Health. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 1995. ISBN 978-1-55798-308-4
  • Opening up: The Healing Power of Confiding in Others. New York: Morrow, 1990. Repr. Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions. New York: Guilford, 1997. ISBN 978-1-57230-238-9
  • Writing to Heal: A Guided Journal for Recovering from Trauma and Emotional Upheaval. Oakland, California: New Harbinger, 2004. ISBN 978-1-57224-365-1
  • The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2011. ISBN 978-1-60819-480-3
  • Articles

  • with Sandra Klihr Beall (1986). "Confronting a traumatic event: Toward an understanding of inhibition and disease" (PDF). Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 95 (3): 274–281. PMID 3745650. doi:10.1037/0021-843x.95.3.274. 
  • with Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser; Ronald Glaser (1988). "Disclosure of traumas and immune function: health implications for psychotherapy" (PDF). Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 56 (2): 239–245. PMID 3372832. doi:10.1037/0022-006x.56.2.239. 
  • Confession, Inhibition, and Disease. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. 22. Academic Press. 1989. pp. 211–244. ISBN 9780120152223. doi:10.1016/S0065-2601(08)60309-3. 
  • with David Watson (April 1989). "Health complaints, stress, and distress: exploring the central role of negative affectivity" (PDF). Psychological Review. 96 (2): 234–254. PMID 2710874. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.96.2.234. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-09-05. 
  • "Putting stress into words: Health, linguistic, and therapeutic implications" (Invited essay). Behaviour Research and Therapy. 31 (6): 539–548. July 1993. doi:10.1016/0005-7967(93)90105-4. 
  • "Writing About Emotional Experiences as a Therapeutic Process" (PDF). Psychological Science. 8 (3): 162–166. May 1997. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.1997.tb00403.x. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-11-12. 
  • with Janel D. Seagal (1999). "Forming a story: The health benefits of narrative" (PDF). Journal of Clinical Psychology. 55 (10): 1243–1254. PMID 11045774. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1097-4679(199910)55:10<1243::AID-JCLP6>3.0.CO;2-N. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-05-05. 
  • with Jennifer K. Bosson; William B. Swann, Jr. (2000). "Stalking the perfect measure of implicit self-esteem: The blind men and the elephant revisited?" (PDF). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 79 (4): 631–643. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.79.4.631. 
  • References

    James W. Pennebaker Wikipedia