Weintraubs Analysis of Verbal Behavior

Weintraub's (1981, 1989) work on verbal mannerisms was inspired by the clinical observation that individuals speaking under stress often reveal important information about their psychological adjustment. Drawing on his medical training and practice, Weintraub argued that psychological defense mechanisms manifest themselves in speech patterns obtained under mildly stressful conditions. He assessed these defense mechanisms from the language that participants spontaneously use when they talk for 10 minutes about a personal topic (Weintraub, 1981).

Unlike most other word count approaches, Weintraub's linguistic analysis is performed by naive judges who "can score . . . [the transcripts] without extensive knowledge of lexical meaning"

(Weintraub, 1989, p. 11). The linguistic parameters that he is interested in are largely intuitively derived and drawn from his clinical experiences. Weintraub's most recent work has focused on 15 linguistic dimensions, including three pronoun categories (I, we, me), negatives (e.g., not, no, never), qualifiers (kind of, what you might call), expressions of feelings (e.g., I love, we were disgusted), and adverbial intensifiers (really, so).

Weintraub has explored verbal behavior in multiple ways. In addition to his main interest, the language of psychopathology, he also analyzed the Watergate transcripts, characterized speaking styles of post-World War II U.S. presidents, identified linguistic correlates of intimacy, and related language use to personality. Weintraub's analyses are instrumental in aim, are thematic in approach, capture a broad spectrum of language use, and are stylistic in focus (see Table 11.2).

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