The Sounds of Social Life: A Psychometric Analysis of Students' Daily Social Environments and Natural Conversations

Matthias R. Mehl, James W. Pennebaker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

225 Scopus citations

Abstract

The natural conversations and social environments of 52 undergraduates were tracked across two 2-day periods separated by 4 weeks using a computerized tape recorder (the Electronically Activated Recorder [EAR]). The EAR was programmed to record 30-s snippets of ambient sounds approximately every 12 min during participants' waking hours. Students' social environments and use of language in their natural conversations were mapped in terms of base rates and temporal stability. The degree of cross-context consistency and between-speaker synchrony in language use was assessed. Students' social worlds as well as their everyday language were highly consistent across time and context. The study sheds light on a methodological blind spot - the sampling of naturalistic social information from an unobtrusive observer's perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)857-870
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume84
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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