Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Cubberley Auditorium, Stanford University
For more than thirty years, social psychologist James Pennebaker has been helping us understand the psychological impact of the stories we tell. Building on an early discovery that keeping secrets can make people sick, Pennebaker developed a rich account of how people could improve their physical and mental health by writing about their deepest secrets, trauma, and other experiences. This research, described in Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotion and Writing to Heal, served as the foundation for Pennebaker’s development of expressive writing, a practice widely used today in many clinical settings.
Most recently, Pennebaker has become intrigued by how we reveal ourselves in our spoken and written language. In his latest book, The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us, he traces the links between seemingly insignificant function words and our social and psychological states, a remarkable and often unexpected journey into the minds of authors, poets, lyricists, politicians, and everyday people through their use of words. He describes masterfully how the language of our stories leaves indelible fingerprints of personality, our relationships and backgrounds, and even our plans for the future. Join us for an evening with one of the most insightful psychologists in America and learn how to perceive the stories that we are unconsciously telling each other all the time.
Regents Centennial Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin
James Pennebaker is a social psychologist and a consultant to businesses, medical schools, and various federal agencies that address corporate and national security issues. He is the author or editor of ten books and nearly 300 scientific articles and ranks among the most cited researchers in psychology, psychiatry, and the social sciences.
This program was co-sponsored by The Stanford Storytelling Project and Stanford Continuing Studies.