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Location: TBA  |  Thursday, February 7  |  8:30 AM - 4:30 PM

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The study of language is a central pillar of psychology. Recently, incredible advances have taken place in the psychological analysis of language that have broad and far-reaching implications for the field. This preconference features interdisciplinary talks from the foremost researchers on language, including cutting-edge research in social/personality psychology and beyond.


More speakers to be announced soon!

James W. Pennebaker headshotJames W. Pennebaker, University of Texas at Austin  (website)

James W. Pennebaker is the Regents Centennial Professor of Liberal Arts and Professor of Psychology. He and his students are exploring natural language use, group dynamics, and personality in both laboratory and 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. Author or editor of 12 books and over 300 articles, Pennebaker has received numerous research and teaching awards and honors.

Kate McLean headshotKate McLeanWestern Washington University  (website)

Kate McLean, Professor of Psychology at Western Washington University, was trained in Developmental and Personality Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz (Ph.D., 2004).  Her research focuses on adolescent and emerging adult identity development.  She is on the governing council for the Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood, and is an Associate Editor for the Journal Personality and Social Psychology: PPID. She teaches courses in Developmental and Personality Psychology, as well as research methods.  She currently serves as the Director for the Center for Cross-Cultural Research at WWU.

David Markowitz headshotDavid MarkowitzUniversity of Oregon  (website)

David Markowitz is an Assistant Professor in the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon. He uses language data from natural repositories to make inferences about people; what they are thinking, feeling, and experiencing psychologically. A large part of his research focuses on how deception affects language, such as how fraudulent scientists write their research papers compared to genuine scientists. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University and his undergraduate and master's degrees from Cornell University.

Michael Birnbaum headshotMichael BirnbaumZucker Hillside Hospital/Lenox Hill Hospital  (website)

Dr. Birnbaum is an attending physician in the Department of Psychiatry at The Zucker Hillside Hospital and The Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. He works as the Program Director for Northwell's Early Treatment Program (ETP), a multi-site state-funded clinical and research initiative for adolescents and young adults in the early stages of psychosis. Dr. Birnbaum’s research has focused primarily on psychotic disorders with an emphasis on the early stages of illness and first-episode schizophrenia. He is exploring the role of social media and the internet in pathways to care for adolescents and young adults with psychotic disorders. Additionally, Dr. Birnbaum is exploring the utility of social media and the internet as a vehicle for timely identification, outreach, engagement and care of youth with mental illness.

Ashwini Ashokkumar headshotAshwini Ashokkumar, The University of Texas at Austin

Ashwini Ashokkumar is currently a Ph.D. student of Social Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. She completed a master’s in liberal studies with a specialization in experimental psychology at Ashoka University, India. She is interested in exploring the psychological processes that drive behaviors of people who are strongly connected to (i.e., those whose identities are “fused” with) a group. She is specifically interested in the negative consequences of identity fusion, including polarization, conflict, and violence. Her research also explores gender violence that stems from notions of honor. In pursuing these questions, she tries to complement traditional methods with relatively novel methods such as analyzing language that people use in natural settings.

Kent D. Harber headshotKent D. Harber, Rutgers University at Newark  (website)

Kent D. Harber, PhD is Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University at Newark.  His research program has three main directions.  One concerns the positive feedback bias from White instructors to students of color.  A second line concerns the affects of emotional disclosure on social judgment (e.g., forgiveness and victim blaming), and basic cognition (e.g., executive control and computation skills). His third area examines the affects of psycho-social resources (e.g., social support, self-esteem) on perceptions of the physical world (e.g., hill slants, heights, scary objects) and the social world (e.g., other's distress).

H. Andrew Schwartz headshotH. Andrew Schwartz, Stony Brook University  (website)

Andrew Schwartz is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Stony Brook University (SUNY). His interdisciplinary research focuses on large and scalable language analyses for health and social sciences. Utilizing natural language processing and machine learning techniques he seeks to discover new behavioral and psychological factors of health and well-being as manifest through language in social media. From 2012 to 2015, he was Lead Research Scientist for the World Well-Being Project at the University of Pennsylvania, an interdisciplinary team that grew to 15 full-time researchers studying how big language analyses can reveal and predict differences in health, personality, and well-being.  He received his PhD in Computer Science from the University of Central Florida in 2011 with research on acquiring lexical semantic knowledge from the Web. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Wired, and The Washington Post.

Laura Niemi headshotLaura Niemi, University of Toronto  (website)

Dr. Laura Niemi is an Assistant Professor in Social Psychology and Global Justice at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. Dr. Niemi received her Ph.D. in Social Psychology and Social Neuroscience from Boston College. She completed post-doctoral research fellowships at Harvard University on the psycholinguistics of morality, and at Duke University on the ethics of credibility assessments. Dr. Niemi’s Applied Moral Psychology lab investigates topics including moral values, stigma and blame, and the neuroscience of fairness.

Ryan Boyd headshotRyan L. Boyd, The University of Texas at Austin  (website)

Ryan L. Boyd is a social/personality psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin. His research primarily deals with using language analysis techniques for revealing/understanding a person’s psychology, as well as their low-level psychological processes. Additionally, his recent research has also begun looking at how important individual differences, such as life experiences and future behaviors, can be detected, predicted, and better understood from a person’s language in social media contexts. Ryan is also the developer of several widely-used text analysis applications – he is the co-creator of the most recent version of LIWC, and he has released several open-source text quantification programs, including software for topic modeling, measurement via word embeddings, and other data handling/manipulation software.

Morteza Dehghani headshotMorteza Dehghani, University of Southern California  (website)

Morteza Dehghani is an Assistant Professor of psychology, computer science and the Brain and Creativity Institute (BCI) at University of Southern California. He is also the PI of USC’s Computational Social Sciences Laboratory (CSSL). Morteza’s research spans the boundary between psychology and artificial intelligence, as does my education. His work investigates properties of cognition by using documents of the social discourse, such as narratives, social media, transcriptions of speeches and news articles, in conjunction to behavioral studies. His research interests include: 1. Human Values 2. Theory Constrained Natural Language Processing 3. Neuro-Semantic Representations.

Katherine A. Collins headshotKatherine A. Collins, University at Ottawa  (website)

Dr. Collins is an Assistant Professor at Concordia University of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where she conducts research on the role of language in the transmission, maintenance, and formation of beliefs. Her current interests include social and cultural issues as well as intergroup processes, perception, and communication.

Art Graesser headshotArt Graesser, University of Memphis  (website)

Dr. Art Graesser is a professor in the Department of Psychology and the Institute of Intelligent Systems at the University of Memphis and is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. He received his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California at San Diego. Art's primary research interests are in cognitive science, discourse processing, and the learning sciences. More specific interests include knowledge representation, question asking and answering, tutoring, text comprehension, inference generation, conversation, reading, problem solving, memory, emotions, computational linguistics, artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, and learning technologies with animated conversational agents. He has published over 600 articles in journals, books, and conference proceedings.

Bryor Snefjella headshotBryor Snefjella, McMaster University, (website)

Bryor Snefjella is a PhD candidate at McMaster University in the Cognitive Science of Language. His research interests fall within the intersect of corpus linguistics, quantitative linguistics, social psychology, and psycholinguistics.  He uses corpora – including representative academic copora, social media, and other sources, to examine how the sensorimotor and affective connotations of words affect language processing, and reflect how we mentally represent people, events, and places.

Fabon Dzogang headshotFabon Dzogang, University of Bristol, (website)

Fabon Dzogang obtained his PhD in Computer Science in 2013 “on Learning and Representation from Texts for both Emotional and dynamical Information” at the University of Pierre et Marie Curie, in the DAPA department at LIP6. After graduating he held a short post-doctoral position in LIP6, working on building interpretable models for the classification of multivariate time series’ data. At this time he grew an interest in the analysis of time series’ data, and in the Fourier transform as a mean to extract meaningful features from data. He later joined the University of Bristol as a research associate in 2014 where he worked on efficient machine learning algorithms for data streams, and developed tools to study our human behaviours at a collective level via the analysis of the social media and large samples of press archives. He combined his works on information dynamics and his interest in the study of emotions to research periodic patterns of emotions and mental health. His results provide evidence that a share of the variance in our collective behaviours and emotions are predictable across the year, and over the 24-h cycle.

Kevin Lanning headshotKevin Lanning, Florida Atlantic University, (website)

Kevin Lanning is a Professor at the Wilkes Honors College of Florida Atlantic University. His research interests include personality measurement, the structure of scholarly networks, and political psychology. His embrace of computational methods and open science is a partial refutation of Max Planck's principle.

Vivian Ta headshotVivian Ta, Lake Forest College, (website)

Vivian P. Ta is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Lake Forest College and Mellon Faculty Fellow. She received her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Texas at Arlington where she was a recipient of a National Science Foundation LSAMP BD fellowship. Her research examines how language shapes the development of common-ground understanding, negotiations, and political discussions. Her other research projects focus on computer-mediated communication, personality, and close relationships.

Poster Session/Data Blitz

Would you like to present a poster or Data Blitz talk at this year’s Psychology of Language Preconference? Emerging scholars (undergraduates, graduate students, and individuals who have received a Ph.D. within the past 5 years) are encouraged to submit an abstract for consideration as a poster. Exceptional submissions will be considered for a 4-minute Data Blitz talk as well.

Submissions should be emailed to Ryan L. Boyd (ryanboyd@utexas.edu) and are due no later than October 31st, 2018. In your submission, please include the following information:

  • Title of your talk/poster 

  • Names of all authors. 

  • Contact information & current title/position of the presenting author. 

  • Abstract of no more than 250 words. 

  • Whether you want your submission to be considered for a Data Blitz talk. 

All submissions will be considered for poster presentations – exceptional submissions will be considered for Data Blitz talks as well. If you do not want your submission to be considered for a Data Blitz talk, please note this in your submissions.

Please feel free to contact Ryan Boyd with any questions that you have about posters/submissions.


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Ryan L. Boyd


2018 Preconference

2019 Annual Convention
February 7 - 9, 2019
Oregon Convention Center
777 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Portland, Oregon 97232, USA