James Pennebaker Ph.D. Professor of Psychology This Emotional Life - PBS

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Experts Biography

Awards and Credentials

  1. ISI HighlyCited.com selection for being among the most cited researchers in psychology/psychiatry
  2. Continuous funding from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and/or the Department of Defense since 1984
  3. Multiple awards for teaching and research

James Pennebaker Ph.D.


Most of Dr. Pennebaker’s current research deals with the nature of language and social processes. Beginning over 20 years ago, he discovered that if people were asked to write about emotional upheavals in their lives, their physical and mental health improved. This resulted in a separate research project that explored how words can both reflect and influence underlying feelings, thoughts, personality, and behavioral tendencies.

In the last few years, Dr. Pennebaker and his students have developed a text analysis program, LIWC, that has allowed them to analyze language use on a word-by-word level for any text – whether an emotional essay, book, poem, song, web page, or natural conversation. They are finding that the “junk words” people use – articles, pronouns, prepositions – are powerful markers of people’s thinking styles and personality.

Dr. Pennebaker received his doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin in 1977. He has written or edited ten books and over 250 scientific articles. He speaks and consults with academic, governmental, and private organizations on topics of stress, natural language, deception, research methods, and social behavior.