Interview with great U Texas Austin psych prof JW Pennebaker

Dr. James W. Pennebaker is Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, and the Executive Director of Project 2021, aimed at rethinking undergrad education at that university.

I first encountered Dr. Pennebaker’s work when I was working on the SelfAuthoring Suite (, an online writing program which has helped thousands of college students stay in school and get better grades. He conducted the original work on “expressive writing,” starting in the 1980’s, showing that people’s health and productivity improved when they wrote about traumatic experiences or uncertainty — particularly if they constructed causal accounts or plans. He has also investigated the psychological significance of patterns of word use (particularly about everyone’s favorites, pronouns). We talk about all of this, and much more.

Interview with great U Texas Austin psych prof JW Pennebaker

Dr. Pennebaker’s books include:

“Opening Up by Writing it Down”
“Expressive Writing: Words that Heal”
“The Secret Life of Pronouns”

You can find out more about The SelfAuthoring Suite, which helps people write about the difficulties and uncertainties of the past (Past Authoring), present (Present Authoring) and Future (Future Authoring) at NPR did a popular story on the suite: The Writing Assignment that Changes Lives:

You can find out more about Dr. Pennebaker’s research, learn more about psychology, and improve your knowledge of yourself at these websites:

JW Pennebaker at U Texas Austin:
JWP’s computer program for word analysis:
JWP’s exercises for self-understanding:
JWP’s Language of Truth and Lies and other videos:

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