I use computational and "big data" techniques to understand why people do what they do. Using natural language processing to analyze the words that people speak, write, and even the words that we read and hear, I study things like how we talk about our emotions, values, and relationships. Specifically, my research is about how our language patterns relate back to our everyday, real-world behavior.

I have published over 80 research papers and applications, which have been cited over 5,000 times. My work has been published in leading journals across disciplines, including Psychological Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Science Advances. A complete list of my publications can be found in my CV, and copies of most of my work can be found on ResearchGate (or you can send me an e-mail!).

Selected Publications

Stereotyping in the digital age

In this work, we looked at language patterns associated with successful (versus less successful) TED Talks. What we found was striking: whereas males are generally "perceived" in a more positive (and competent) light, female-typical language patterns are actually preferred by audiences. This is true even for males who use more female-typical language, suggesting that there is a disconnect between what our stereotypes tell us is good versus what we actually prefer.

Natural emotion vocabularies as windows on distress and well-being

Across two large-scale studies, we find that the common wisdom about "labeling your emotions" may be wrong (or at least incomplete). People who use a more diverse array of negative emotion labels in daily life tend to have worse psychosocial and health outcomes than those with smaller active emotion vocabularies.

The narrative arc: Revealing core narrative structures through text analysis

The product of almost a decade of work with great colleagues. We find and show that the "DNA" of stories can be measured, providing us new ways to scientifically study how we share ourselves, our imaginations, and our worlds with each other.

The Personality Panorama: Conceptualizing Personality Through Big Behavioural Data

Our manifesto on the current and future state of Personality + Social Psychology as scientific disciplines. One of my favorite papers to date.

Deep into that darkness peering: A computational analysis of the role of depression in Edgar Allan Poe’s life and death

In this research, we conducted the first-ever science-based examination of Poe's psychological states throughout his life, and whether depression may have played a role in his untimely (and mysterious) death.

Examining long-term trends in politics and culture through language of political leaders and cultural institutions

Contrary to popular belief, we find that the current rise of non-analytic, high-confidence political leaders is actually the result of a 100-year long trend.

Food for thought: Exploring how people think and talk about food online

In this study, we looked at how people living in different cities talk about food (e.g., eating, cooking, going out to eat) and how food culture relates to public health. We find rather striking differences in "food psychology" between healthy and unhealthy cities.

Predicting recidivism among internet child sex sting offenders using psychological language analysis

In this research, we find that we can not only predict which online sexual predators will reoffend based on their language styles, but that the most likely reoffenders talk differently than what we might expect.

Using digital footprints in entrepreneurship research: A Twitter-based personality analysis of superstar entrepreneurs and managers

By profiling the personalities of over top-performing CEOs and managers in the Fortune 500 list, we move closer to understanding the psychology of business superstars.

Did Shakespeare Write Double Falsehood? Identifying Individuals by Creating Psychological Signatures With Text Analysis

More than 100 years after Shakespeare’s death, Lewis Theobald published Double Falsehood, a supposedly lost play by Shakespeare. Using new approaches to language and psychological analysis, we found that (to our surprise) Theobald was telling the truth.