It’s All About You And Me

Here’s something I bet you never realised. Apparently, the pronouns you use can reveal your personality.

Not only that, but your use of pronouns changes depending on how stressed you are, or where you’re sitting in the hierarchy of your social group – among other factors.

That’s the amazing claim by James Pennebaker in his fascinating book, The Secret Life of Pronouns.

He points out that pronouns are often invisible to the “naked ear”. They’re hidden in plan view. As with other hidden metaphors, we’re just not programmed to notice them.

But he and his colleagues have discovered that computer analysis of written materials reveals surprising differences in the way people use pronouns (words like I, you, me, we etc).

For example, in any interaction, people lower in the social pecking order will use more “I” words than more dominant individuals.

Want to see where you fit? If you’re on Twitter, you can use his online Analyze Words tool to compute your own personality, and those of your friends and colleagues. (While you’re there, feel free to follow @xraylistening!)

  • David Grove, creator of Clean Language, was also fascinated by pronouns. In this video I describe one of the ways he used them with clients.
  • Many thanks to Jorgen Rasmussen and James Tripp for the book recommendation.

1 Comment

  • Gary Turner

    07/11/2011

    I found it an awesome book Judy, again recommended to me through Jorgen and James. Read it three times last week and I find it sits really nicely amongst my other linguistic studies, clean language included of course!

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field