Project Director

Warren, Amye R.

Department Examiner

Ozbek, Irene N.; Rogers, Katherine H.


Dept. of Psychology


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Spoken and written language patterns are subtle aspects of behavior that may differ between those with and without invisible disabilities. One tool to measure language is the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC), a computer-based measure comprising a variety of components (emotional, cognitive, and structural) present in oral and written language samples (Pennebaker, Boyd, Jordan, & Blackburn, 2015). Using LIWC analyses, previous research suggests a significant difference in written language usage amongst individuals with depression compared to those without depression (Brockmeyer, et al., 2015). Unfortunately, a limited amount of research has been conducted using LIWC analyses to examine written language usage in individuals with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD; Newton, et al., 2009). Nguyen and colleagues (2014) discovered that, when compared to other online communities, individuals in online autism communities tend to exhibit a language style that suggests lower valence thus indicating lower overall moods. The present study explored the relationship between invisible disability and written language patterns using LIWC analysis. We examined responses to open-ended, discussion board prompts presented to participants in a Qualtrics survey. Participants included 11 individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, 20 individuals with depression, and 131 individuals with no disability. As expected, language differences were observed between groups. Individuals with ASD tended to use more analytical thinking and articles while those with depression used more personal pronouns, 3rd person plural, common adverbs, cognitive processes, insight, causation, discrepancy, and informal language.


I would first like to thank my thesis director, Dr. Amye R. Warren. The door to Dr. Warren's office was always open whether I had questions about my research and writing or I simply just needed a good laugh (or, more realistically, a reality check). If it wasn't for her guidance throughout this entire process, along with the last four years, I doubt I would have made it through as successfully as I have, or at all. I would also like to thank my committee who were involved in the completion of this project: Dr. Irene N. Ozbek and Dr. Katherine H. Rogers. Without their participation and input, this project could not have been conducted successfully. I am gratefully indebted to all three of these brilliant women for their valuable contributions to this thesis. Finally, I must acknowledge my gratitude for the funds received for this project. This research was supported by a Provost Student Research Assistantship. Thank you.

IRB Number



B. S.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Science.




People with mental disabilities; Autistic people -- Language; Depression, Mental


Language; Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD); Depression; Invisible disabilities; Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC); Young adults



Document Type



84 leaves







Date Available


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Psychology Commons