August 15, 2017
School of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Wisconsin-Madison
The words we say in daily conversation can provide a powerful window into our state of mind, including our moods, concerns, and priorities. General topics of discussion can be revealing (for example, if we’re talking about friends, the weather, or problems at work). But even more is often revealed by subtler styles of speech, including the pronouns we use, our emotional tone, and how we put our sentences together. These subtle linguistic differences are especially meaningful in an age when computers play an ever-increasing role in our lives. Technology and social media provide an array of new outlets through which to communicate. At the same time, computer science offers new tools to automatically measure subtle qualities of language. At the Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies (CHESS), our research uses social media language not only to understand people better, but also to help people improve their health.The A-CHESS smartphone app provides addiction recovery services on-demand. Analyzing the language used in A-CHESS discussion forums is helping researchers predict the likelihood of relapse.