The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us

Bloomsbury Publishing USA
16
Free sample

A surprising and entertaining explanation of how the words we use (even the ones we don't notice) reveal our personalities, emotions, and identities.

We spend our lives communicating. In the last fifty years, we've zoomed through radically different forms of communication, from typewriters to tablet computers, text messages to tweets. We generate more and more words with each passing day. Hiding in that deluge of language are amazing insights into who we are, how we think, and what we feel.

In The Secret Life of Pronouns, social psychologist and language expert James W. Pennebaker uses his groundbreaking research in computational linguistics-in essence, counting the frequency of words we use-to show that our language carries secrets about our feelings, our self-concept, and our social intelligence. Our most forgettable words, such as pronouns and prepositions, can be the most revealing: their patterns are as distinctive as fingerprints.

Using innovative analytic techniques, Pennebaker X-rays everything from Craigslist advertisements to the Federalist Papers-or your own writing, in quizzes you can take yourself-to yield unexpected insights. Who would have predicted that the high school student who uses too many verbs in her college admissions essay is likely to make lower grades in college? Or that a world leader's use of pronouns could reliably presage whether he led his country into war? You'll learn why it's bad when politicians use "we" instead of "I," what Lady Gaga and William Butler Yeats have in common, and how Ebenezer Scrooge's syntax hints at his self-deception and repressed emotion. Barack Obama, Sylvia Plath, and King Lear are among the figures who make cameo appearances in this sprightly, surprising tour of what our words are saying-whether we mean them to or not.
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About the author

James W. Pennebaker is the Regents Centennial Chair of Psychology and the Executive Director of Project 2021, a program to change the way the University of Texas thinks about and delivers undergraduate education. He and his students are exploring the links between emotional experiences, natural language, and physical and mental health. His most recent research focuses on how everyday language reflects basic social and personality processes. Author or editor of 9 books and over 250 articles, Pennebaker has received numerous awards and honors.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Bloomsbury Publishing USA
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Published on
Aug 23, 2011
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Pages
368
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ISBN
9781608194971
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Language
English
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Genres
Language Arts & Disciplines / General
Psychology / Personality
Psychology / Social Psychology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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From the world’s #1 body language expert* comes the essential book for decoding human behavior

Joe Navarro has spent a lifetime observing others. For 25 years, as a Special Agent for the FBI, he conducted and supervised interrogations of spies and other dangerous criminals, honing his mastery of nonverbal communication. After retiring from the bureau, he has become a sought-after public speaker and consultant, and an internationally bestselling author. Now, a decade after his groundbreaking book What Every BODY is Saying, Navarro returns with his most ambitious work yet. The Dictionary of Body Language is a pioneering “field guide” to nonverbal communication, describing and explaining the more than 400 behaviors that will allow you to gauge anyone’s true intentions.

Moving from the head down to the feet, Navarro reveals the hidden meanings behind the many conscious and subconscious things we do. Readers will learn how to tell a person’s actual feelings from subtle changes in their pupils; the lip behaviors that betray concerns or hidden information; the many different varieties of arm posturing, and what each one means; how the position of our thumbs when we stand akimbo reflects our mental state; and many other fascinating insights to help you both read others and change their perceptions of you.

Readers will turn to The Dictionary Body Language again and again—a body language bible for anyone looking to understand what their boss really means, interpret whether a potential romantic partner is interested or not, and learn how to put themselves forward in the most favorable light.

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In the last several years, there has been a resurgence of interest in this general topic because it addresses some fundamental questions about memory and social processes. Work closely related to these questions deals with the nature of autobiographical memory, traumatic experience and reconstructive memory, and social sharing of memories. This book brings together an international group of researchers who have been empirically studying some basic tenets of collective memory.
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