If you've ever wondered whether your word choices matter, look no further than the World Well Being Project to determine that they do. In this new study, psychology researchers were able to show that the words you use most often can predict your age, gender, and even your personality.
The study, which came out of the University of Pennsylvania, analyzed the vocabulary of 75,000 Facebook users who had voluntarily submitted demographic information and taken personality tests. The researches then examined high frequency words among different groups to determine if factors such as age, gender, and personality could be predicted just by examining the words a person is using the most.
The results reveal that your words really do describe who you are: men's posts are dominated by words like "Xbox," "black ops," and "wishes," while women's posts prioritized "cute," "yummy," and "happy." Extroverted Facebook users say "party" a lot more than introverted users, who, apparently, are too preoccupied with discussions of "anime." The creators of the study published many fascinating word maps on the site detailing the study results. Check them out here.
The study's site also offers a fun interactive feature where you can see how a word or set of words track by age. Here we can see how older people will use words and phrases like "I am thankful" or "wonderful," while younger users will use "excited" or just ":)" to get at the same idea.
But the study's results are more than just interactive fun. They reinforce a message that anyone considering vocabulary development needs to hear. Your words do send subtle messages about who you are. If you want to be in control of these messages, it's best to know what the words you are using mean, and to accumulate an arsenal of vocabulary to better shape the way you read, write, speak, and think.