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Insights into adolescent well-being from computerised analysis of written language
journal contributionposted on 2021-06-01, 00:00 authored by N J Shearer, A N Gillespie, T S Olds, F K Mensah, B Edwards, Julian FernandoJulian Fernando, Yichao WangYichao Wang, M Wake, Kate LycettKate Lycett
Aim: To examine associations between patterns of language use and early adolescent well-being. Methods: Participants were 1763 Australian 11- to 12-year-olds in the Child Health CheckPoint. Six patterns of language use were identified from a writing activity using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count and factor analysis: Acting in the present and future, Positive emotion, Gender and relationships, Self-aware, Inquisitive and time focused, and Confident. Well-being measures represented a spectrum from negatively to positively framed psychosocial health. Associations between language use and well-being were estimated using linear regression adjusted for age, sex and social disadvantage. Results: Positive emotion (high emotional tone, positive emotion) was associated with better general well-being (standardised regression coefficient (SRC) 0.05; 95% confidence interval 0.00 to 0.11; p = 0.04), life satisfaction (0.06; 0.01 to 0.11; p = 0.03), psychosocial health (0.07; 0.02 to 0.12; p = 0.01) and quality of life (QoL) (0.06; 0.01 to 0.11; p = 0.02). Similarly, Self-aware (high first person singular pronouns, authentic, low clout) was associated with better general well-being, life satisfaction and psychosocial health (SRC 0.05, 0.09, 0.08), but Confident (high clout, first person plural pronouns, affiliation) was associated with worse life satisfaction, psychosocial health and QoL (SRC −0.06, −0.09, −0.06). Conclusion: If replicated in ‘real-world’ settings (e.g., social media), language patterns could provide naturalistic insights into early adolescents’ well-being.