Department of Psychology
Department of Psychology

Dr. Pennebaker: "Um, what? UT researchers find that people who say 'like' are more thoughtful"

Mon, June 23, 2014
Dr. Pennebaker:

CultureMap Austin online reported on the results of a recent study published in The Journal of Language and Social Psychology by Professor Pennebaker and researchers at the Department of Psychology on five common filler words (I mean, you know, like, uh, um).


In the aptly titled, “Um ... Who Like Says You Know: Filler Word Use as a Function of Age, Gender and Personality,” a group of researchers from the university’s Department of Psychology studied the use of five common filler phrases. The paper’s authors analyzed the use of “I mean,” “you know,” “like,” “uh” and “um” in transcripts recorded by a device called the Electronically Activated Recorder.


The EAR (kudos to scientists using straightforward acronyms) sampled the conversations of participants in the study over several days. By studying 263 transcripts from five separate studies, researchers looked to objectively measure what the use of these fillers meant about a user’s personality.


Simple filled pauses such as “uh” and “um” were used at comparable rates across all genders and ages. However, so-called discourse markers including “like,” “you know” and “I mean” were more common “among women, younger participants and more conscientious people,” according to the paper. These findings further suggest that “filler word use can be considered a potential social and personality marker.”

See full article HERE.

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