How People Signal Their Depression on the Internet— Unveiling the Language Context of Depression

    • Présentatrice(s) ou présentateur(s)
      • Rita Ching-Hsuan Tsao, Étudiante à la maîtrise, Graduate Institute of Linguistics, National Taiwan University

    Can language use reflect psychological states? The present study aims to examine the expression of depression on the Internet, and distinguish the linguistic style between depression-prone and non-depressed individuals through textual analysis for the purpose of extrapolating their feature of word use. In this exploratory study, I observed linguistic markers of depression on two online forums. One is The John Tung Foundation, as the most important organizations dedicated to public welfare in Taiwan, it provides a cyber space for people who suffer from depression for sharing their daily feelings. (N=50) And another is PTT, the most popular bulletin board system for the public in Taiwan. In PTT forum, two boards (sad and happy) are selected to extract postings (N=30 respectively) to make a comparison and contrast according to their linguistic styles. Furthermore, the criteria of the 30 postings from the board “sad” and “happy” respectively are based on their contents exhibiting individual mood but not sharing information merely. In order to realize whether the posts on JTF forum share the similar language cues with those in the board “sad” but not in the board “happy”, all collected data are analyzed via C-LIWC program which helps to map linguistic and psychological variables of written texts. The statistics showed that linguistic cues associated with depression appeared more frequently in the board “sad” than those in the board “happy”. It is supported that, in Chinese, linguistic predictors of depression can be discerned through text analysis as well. The practicable method thus can be used to track the latent depression-prone people and may deter negative behaviors such as suicide attempts.


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