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Counting Little Words in Big Data


Language can provide a window into individuals, families, their community, and culture- and, at the broadest level, into history.  Words are the primary means by which we express our thoughts and feelings.  They are what we use to communicate, to influence, and to archive our experience of events.  Given the centrality of language, it is somewhat surprising that so few social scientists have relied on word analyses to understand basic social processes.  Until the very end of the 20th century, large-scale word analyses were simply too difficult to do.  With the simultaneous popularity of the desktop computer and the internet, researchers for the first time were able to explore natural language on a scale never imagined.

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Full Citation:

Pennebaker, James W., and Cindy K. Chung. 2013. "Counting Little Words in Big Data." In Social Cognition and Communication. New York, NY:Psychology Press.

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