College of Liberal Arts

Expressive Writing and Health: How Putting Upheavals into Words Can Affect Our Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors

Wednesday May 16, 2018 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM | CLA 1.302B, 305 E. 23rd St., Austin, TX 78712

On May 16, James Pennebaker, UT Austin psychology professor, will speak on “Expressive Writing and Health: How Putting Upheavals into Words Can Affect Our Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors.”

In 1986, the first expressive writing study was conducted. Students asked to write about their most upsetting experiences for 15 minutes a day for four consecutive days later had half the number of student health center visits than students asked to write about superficial topics. Since the first expressive writing study, well over 500 experiments have expanded on this phenomenon. Why does translating our thoughts and feelings into words affect our health and everyday behaviors? A generation of research is beginning to find some promising answers. As will be discussed, the expressive writing project brings together ideas from the humanities, sciences, and the healing arts.

James W. Pennebaker is the Regents Centennial Professor of Liberal Arts and Executive Director of Project 2021. He and his students are exploring natural language use, group dynamics, and personality in educational and other real world settings. His earlier work on expressive writing found that physical health and work performance can improve by simple writing and/or talking exercises. His cross-disciplinary research is related to linguistics, clinical and cognitive psychology, communications, medicine, and computer science. His current position with Project 2021 involves rethinking undergraduate education at the University of Texas. Author or editor of 9 books and over 250 articles, Pennebaker has received numerous awards and honors.

The Health & Humanities Pop-Up Institute is a collaboration between the Office of the Vice President of Research and the Humanities Institute at the University of Texas at Austin through the following endowments: the Holloway Centennial Lectureship, the Hoffman Centennial Lectureship, the Kidd Centennial Lectureship, and the Ho Distinguished Lecture in China Studies Endowment. Additional support comes from the College of Liberal Arts, the Department of English, and the Dell Medical School.

This event is free and open to the public. 

For more information regarding the Health and Humanities PUI times, locations, and parking, visit the following site: 


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