Me, Me, Me: People Who Overuse The First-Person Singular Are More Depressed

Have you ever taken stock of the personal pronouns you use in everyday conversation? A German study found that those who use the first-person singular more often tend to have more personal problems and are more likely to be depressed.

In the study, 103 women and 15 men completed 60- to 90-minute psychotherapeutic interviews about their relationships, their past, and their self-perception. (99 of the subjects were patients at a psychotherapy clinic who had problems ranging from eating disorders to anxiety.) They also filled out questionnaires about depression and their interpersonal behavior.

Then, researchers led by Johannes Zimmerman of Germany's University of Kassel counted the number of first-person singular (I, me) and first-person plural (we, us) pronouns used in each interview. Subjects who said more first-personal singular words scored higher on measures of depression. They also were more likely to show problematic interpersonal behaviors such as attention seeking, inappropriate self-disclosure, and an inability to spend time alone.

Anyone who has dealt with self-obsessed teenagers will say, "Duh." And the report doesn't mention those who use predominantly second- or third-person pronouns; the contrast was with the prevalence of first-person plurals, like "we" or "us." Of course, this study doesn't mean that the language causes depression -the word frequency could be a symptom of underlying mental conditions. Link

(Image credit: Flickr user madamepsychosis)

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I have felt that I might tend to use first person pronouns excessively. However, my friends have not complained to me nor have I found that they use them less than I.
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