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Psychol Sci. 2003 Jan;14(1):60-5.

The secret life of pronouns: flexibility in writing style and physical health.

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Department of Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin, 78712, USA.


Numerous disclosure studies have demonstrated that individuals randomly assigned to write about emotional topics evidence improved physical health compared with those who write about superficial topics. The writing samples from three previously published studies of 74 first-year students, 50 upper-division students, and 59 maximum-security prisoners were reanalyzed using Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) to explore possible relationships of writing content and style to changes in frequency of physician visits following the disclosure intervention. LSA revealed that flexibility in the use of common words-particularly personal pronouns--when writing about traumatic memories was related to positive health outcomes. The findings point to the importance of the role of discussing the self and social relationships in writing and, at the same time, to the remarkable potential of techniques such as LSA.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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