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2010: Truth Behind the Tweet

It’s the end of the week. Productivity is down and the need for distraction is up. Luckily, a psychology professor has a tool that could easily fill a political junkie's afternoon.

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It’s the end of the week. Productivity is down and the need for distraction is up. Luckily, James Pennebaker, professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, has a tool that — especially when combined with the power of the Tribune’s Tweetwire — could easily fill a Texas political junkie’s afternoon.

With the help of, a Twitter account becomes a series of 140-character windows into the soul.  In other words, the website  “helps reveal your personality by looking at how you use words.”

The program uses Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC), developed by Pennebaker and Roger J. Booth of the University of Auckland.  You can read about the science behind it here.  Note that it says, “This is an ongoing investigation” (a.k.a., a work in progress).  For example, for some reason it had trouble getting a good read this morning on Debra Medina’s account (@debmedina) and Bill White’s campaign account (billwhitefortx).

Here’s a brief roundup of what the program tells us about some of our Texas politicians (as of the morning of Jan. 15 — these are subject to change).  Follow the links to see a more detailed display of the results:

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s campaign account — (@teamkay)

Personal Style: Somewhat depressed.

Social Style: Mostly “arrogant/distant.”

Thinking Style: Low marks across the board.

Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign account — (@govperry2010)

Personal Style: Nothing stands out.

Social Style: Pretty plugged in and highly arrogant.

Thinking Style: Consistently low marks.

Gov. Rick Perry’s personal account — (@governorperry)  

Personal Style: Very upbeat.

Social Style: Notably personable and notably arrogant.

Thinking Style: Generally analytic.

Farouk Shami’s campaign account — (@Farouk4Texas)

Personal Style: Highly upbeat and somewhat angry.

Social Style: Scores an “average” for “plugged in” and a “high” for “arrogant.”

Thinking Style: Highly analytic.

To be fair, here's my account — (@reevehamilton)

Personal Style: Not upbeat at all, but highly worried.

Social Style: Highly plugged in with an average level of “spacy/valleygirl.”

Thinking Style: I get an “average” for analytic. 

So, that's, like, it. Whatevs.

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2010 elections Bill White Dan Patrick Griffin Perry Rick Perry