Molly Ireland, Ph.D.
My research focuses on how natural language relates to health, personality, and social behavior in three broad contexts:
- Conversations: Language style matching (LSM) occurs when people match each other's function words (such as if, the, and she). High LSM indicates that conversation partners are socially engaged, or paying attention to each other's words and mental states. In most situations, matching is good: We like and want to keep talking with people who are similar to us and easy to understand. However, some of my recent research shows that focusing on and matching a partner's language use may lead to negative outcomes like impasse in antagonistic conversations.
- Individual language use: This research mainly concerns questions about group-level variables like HIV incidence or personality traits. For example, what speaking styles signal neuroticism, and how do those signals differ in public (e.g., blogs, speeches), private (e.g., diaries, self-talk), and the grey area of social media? In health research, what are the linguistic characteristics of counties that, despite high population density and poverty, have low rates of HIV or sexually transmitted infections?
- Literature: Fiction is an extraordinarily rich data source. In it, we get a glimpse of how the mind works, or how authors (expert and non-expert) believe it works. Most of the time, we find that art imitates life. Men sound more or less like men, women sound like women, people become less self-focused when they’re promoted, and so on. But we can also learn from mismatches between life and art and the individual differences that are associated with them.
Almost all of my research uses computerized text analysis. I mainly use the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count, or LIWC.
- Ireland, M. E., Chen, Q., Schwartz, H. A., Ungar, L., & Albarracín, D. (in press). Action Tweets Linked to Reduced County-Level HIV Prevalence in the United States: Online Messages and Structural Determinants. AIDS and Behavior.
- Ireland, M. E., Schwartz, H. A., Chen, Q., Ungar, L., & Albarracín, D. (2015). Future-Oriented Tweets Predict Lower County-Level HIV Prevalence in the United States. Health Psychology, 34, 1252-1260.
- Marshall, P., Ireland, M. E., & Dalton, A. (2015). Earliest Memories of Pets Predict Adult Attitudes: Phenomenological, Structural, and Textual Analyses. Human-Animal Interaction.
- Ireland, M. E. & Mehl, M. R. (2015). Natural language use as a marker of personality. In T. Holtgraves (Ed.) Oxford Handbook of Language and Social Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Ireland, M. E., & Henderson, M. D. (2014). Language Style Matching, Engagement, and
Impasse in Negotiations. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 7(1), 1-16.
Ireland, M. E. & Mehl, M. R. (2014). Natural language use as a marker of personality. In T. Holtgraves (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Language and Social Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Pennebaker, J. W. & Ireland, M. E. (2011). Using literature to understand authors: The case for computerized text analysis. Scientific Study of Literature, 1.
- Ireland, M. E., Slatcher, R. B., Eastwick, P. W., Scissors, L. E., Finkel, E. J., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2011). Language style matching predicts relationship initiation and stability. Psychological Science, 22, 39-44.
- Ireland, M. E. & Pennebaker, J. W. (2010). Language style matching in writing: Synchrony in essays, correspondence, and poetry. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99, 549-571.
- Pennebaker, J. W. & Ireland, M. E. (2008). Analyzing Words to Understand Literature. In J. Auracher & W. van Peer (Eds.), New Beginnings in Literary Studies (pp. 24-48).
- Pennebaker, J. W., Chung, C. K., Ireland, M. E., Gonzales, A. L., & Booth, R. J. (2007). The development and psychometric properties of LIWC2007. Austin, TX: LIWC.net.
Teaching Interests and Activities
- Social Psychology of Language and Communication
- Close Relationships
AddressTexas Tech University, Department of Psychological Sciences, Box 42051 Lubbock, TX 79409-2051