Date of Award

5-1-2012

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Rodriguez, Benjamin

Second Advisor

Burke, Phililp

Abstract

A substantial body of literature suggests that depression influences how individuals communicate. Much of this work utilizes cognitive frameworks to explain observed differences in language of those with increased depression, as language is traditionally viewed as a cognitive process. Although cognitive models somewhat explain these observed patterns in language, an increasing amount of literature also recognizes the interconnectivity between cognition and affect. Currently, no studies examine the impact of affect on language. Thus, the current study sought to address this gap in the literature by explaining changes in language using both cognitive and affective frameworks through an examination of the influence of depression and temporary affective state on language. As in previous studies, analysis of linguistic samples from 136 adults demonstrated that depression predicted specific linguistic trends; specifically, depression positively correlated with self- and shared-identity focus. The present study took this a step further by demonstrating that induction of temporary affective states also caused changes in linguistic style, with a negative affective induction group showing more self-focus language whereas those induced with positive affect demonstrated decreased negative emotion language. I end the thesis with a discussion of the importance of the current findings, as they suggest depressed mood may be an explanatory factor in the linguistic patterns of depressed individuals

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