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Extraverts speak – but don’t write – a lot

8 December 2022
Someone who speaks a lot is more likely to be high on extraversion, and someone who writes a lot, as well as someone who uses long words, is more likely to be higher on openness to experience - which, in turn, is related to higher intelligence. Furthermore, someone who swears and uses negative emotions (e.g., hurt, ugly, hate, kill) is more likely to be disagreeable and low on conscientiousness.

These are the results of VU psychologist Antonis Koutsoumpis who quantified the relations between language and personality and discovered that different people use different words according to their personality traits.

Koutsoumpis: “Our language reflects who we are, and we can use language to make somewhat accurate estimates of other people's personality as well. Next time you meet someone, pay attention to what they say.”

People's personality
Inferring people's personality is an essential skill and something that we all do because it has significant implications on who to date, befriend, trust, or hire. Assessing personality from language is also something that many people tacitly do, for instance, when trying to understand the personality of a writer they have never met. It is also something that professionals explicitly do, for instance, when trying to understand the personality of a job candidate from their resume.

Unique human feature
Language is a unique human feature. Through language we express our feelings, ideas, and emotions. As such, our personality might also be revealed in our language, through the words we use. For the past decades, text analysis has made great strides because of the advent of computers that can process huge amounts of texts.

Koutsoumpis: “In this meta-analysis, we collected all studies that have explored the relation between personality traits and 52 linguistic categories, as measured by the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC). Personality traits were measured under the Big Five model of personality (e.g., Extraversion, Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Openness to Experience, Emotional Stability). Linguistic categories were groups of words (e.g., negative emotions, positive emotions, swear-related words, pronouns, etc.).”