The Wmatrix Linguistic Analysis And The Dictionary Of Affect And Language

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Cornell professor of communication Jeff Hancock and colleagues at the University of British Columbia, Michael T. Woodworth and Stephen Porter conducted a well-known study on the language of psychopaths, “A growing set of research suggests that subtle patterns in word choice can reveal underlying cognitive and emotional processes” (Hancock, Woodworth, & Porter, 2013, p.103) Using the Wmatrix linguistic analysis and the Dictionary of Affect and Language, evaluated the speech patterns of convicted murderers. Because most of our word selection occurs subconsciously, the analysis of those words could offer significant insight to the inner workings of your brain. (Hancock et al., 2013, p.103). The study focused on the areas of: instrumental nature, …show more content…
The transcripts of the volunteers were analyzed in two stages the first being the Wmatrix (Rayson, 2003, 2008) which compared the parts of speech with surrounding context, “The Wmatrix linguistic analysis tool was used to examine parts of speech and semantic content.” (Hancock et al., 2013, p.109) The Wmatrix analyzes text at a 92% accuracy rate and is considered to be more technologically advanced than the text analysis tools that use a word count approach (Hancock et al., 2013, p.106) The second stage of evaluation is the use of the Dictionary of affect and language, (Whissell & Dewson, 1986) which assigned a score in regards to pleasantness and intensity. “The DAL’s analysis of emotion also captures intensity, a key element of emotionality in language potentially related to psychopathy” (Hancock et al., 2013, p.109) Using the Wmatrix linguistic analysis and the Dictionary of Affect and Language, the transcript of each man’s narrative is evaluated, and after the speech patterns of each individual have been digitally analyzed, they are divided in to the psychopath and …show more content…
Hancock explains that this is evidence of the emotional detachment that is felt by many psychopathic criminals towards the victims. The study also showed that psychopaths tend to be less fluent with their speech. In what Hancock refers to as a difficulty with “impression management” (Hancock et al., 2013, p.109) The increased use of “uh” and “um” in psychopathic speech patterns indicates cognitive strain, causing difficulty when describing emotional events to others. The psychopath’s speech patterns also utilized more explanatory language in their narratives “This pattern suggested that psychopaths were more likely to have viewed the crime as a logical outcome of a plan”. (Hancock et al., 2013 p.109) The speech patterns of the men classified as psychopaths were twice as likely to use language identifying with physical needs, while the remaining 38 volunteers classified as non-psychopaths, utilized more words about social needs. One suggested explanation for this difference in priorities is that psychopaths appear to be developmentally stunted. (Hancock et al., 2013, p.109)
Hancock admits there were limitations regarding the study 's results, the researchers did not have access to photos or video taken at the time of each volunteer’s criminal offense. There was no way to determine if the volunteers were accurately describing their crime scene and suggest that future research should have broader

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