Curtis presents language analysis at SPSP conference

Mar 15, 2023 | Education and Human Sciences, Faculty/Staff, General News, Research, Research and Development

For Arizona native Dr. Shelby Curtis language analysis is an important factor that helps researchers like her understand people’s internal thoughts and external behaviors.

Curtis recently presented her research on “Personality, communication, and success in a competitive online environment” to the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP).

SPSP is an organization of over 7000 members focused on advancing the research, teaching, and application of concepts related to personality and social psychology. These include topics like group dynamics, social influence, motivation and emotion, stereotyping and prejudice, and psychological well-being.

Curtis’ research showcases how important it is to understand the relationship between personality, communication, and navigating social environments.

“The findings from this research will be used to better understand how we form trusting relationships with others in completely online contexts, and how the words we use in conversations change how people perceive us,” Curtis said. “There are more remote workers than ever, online dating is even more popular, and even online therapy services have increased, just as a few examples. These are all situations in which my research could apply to better help people communicate and form bonds when all they have to interpret is text on a screen.”


Curtis’ research focused on an online competitive game called “Stranded” where players must form strong relationships to survive, and in every round, they must vote to eliminate one player from the game.

“I found that people were more successful in the game when they reported high levels of political skill and used fewer words in conversations that were associated with clout and analytical thinking,” Curtis said.

Her research showed that people were more successful in these environments when they had conversations that were more personable, less strategic, and less overbearing.

“The motto of Survivor is ‘Outwit, Outplay, and Outlast’, but from my research, I argue that what’s more important is the need to ‘Get Along to Get Ahead’,” Curtis said. “The future of this research includes using these conversations to look at trust and deception in online social contexts.”

Her research is being prepared for submission to peer-reviewed journals for publication.