Psycholinguistic Characteristics of Autobiographical Narratives and College Adjustment

By Arthur McGovern.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This exploratory study examined the psycholinguistic characteristics of student reflective writing during the semester and personal behaviors and activities at the start of the semester as predictors of college adjustment among first year college students, and whether gender differences existed among the predictors. Forty-one freshmen students in an introductory psychology course participated in the study. Course grades, subjective well-being, and self-reported college adjustment were the dependent variables. Stepwise selection multiple regression analyses were conducted to identify the variables that best predicted college adjustment.
All reported findings were significant at the .05 level.
Among male students, overeating and talking to old friends significantly predicted lower course grades, accounting for over 34% of the variance. Subjective well-being was not significantly predicted by college activities or writing content. Trouble falling asleep predicted lower levels of general adjustment. Self-directed journal writing and taking aspirin or pain relievers significantly predicted general adjustment.
For females, higher rates of positive feeling words predicted better course scores, and 1st person plural pronouns predicted lower course scores. Subjective well-being was positively predicted by the number of vitamins consumed, and negatively related to the number of times they thought about dropping out of school. Well-being was also positively predicted by the use of 1st person plural (we) pronouns and negatively predicted by emotion words and references to communication. Finally, the number of sugary snacks consumed predicted general adjustment and accounted for over 35% of variance.
Results suggest that narrative analysis can reveal social factors and self-regulatory factors that play a role in college adjustment, and that these factors may have contradictory influence. The present study included a number of limitations (e.g., over 70% of the sample were male). Results provide preliminary evidence that autobiographical narrative content may help predict college adjustment, but further research is warranted.

Keywords: Psycholinguistics, Autobiographical Narratives, College Adjustment

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.31-38. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 550.782KB).

Dr. Arthur McGovern

Assistant Professor, Psychology, Nichols College, Dudley, MA, USA

I am an Austrian immigrant, and have long been interested in the interactive relationship betwen culture, psychology, and well-being. As part of my explorations and studies, I have earned a Master's degree in Gerontology and a PhD in Educational Psychology from Oklahoma State University. I am currently on the faculty of Nichols College and doing research in self-regulation and performance development. My specific interests focus on the use of linguistic analysis to explore the mechanisms of achievement, and this focus is based on the principles of narrative psychology.


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