August 28, 2012 § 2 Comments
It’s been a while since my last post but things have been a little busy with the work for the thesis, paper writing, etc… but here we are again, one year later at WikiSym 2012 in Linz, Austria. And here’s the presentation I gave yesterday on the Psychological processes underlying Wikipedia representations of natural and manmade disasters: we used the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count by Pennebaker and colleagues to assess the percentages of words related to different psychological categories in the English Wikipedia’s articles about traumatic/non traumatic events, old/recent events, and natural/human-made disasters. It turns out that Wikipedia’s articles talking about human-made disasters contain a higher presence of language related to anger and anxiety, while those about natural disasters contain a significantly higher percentage of words related to sadness. Which is consistent with what past research in the real world has found about man-made disasters triggering more focused anger and having more widespread consequences on people’s physical and psychological health. This could also be related to the “perception of control” introduced by Baum (1986): loosing control when there are expectation for it (as in the case of human-made disasters, which are usually perceived as a loss of control over technology or other social situations) is associated to stress arousal, while when something happens but you don’t expect to have any sort of control over it (as it happens with natural disasters, which are usually perceived as uncontrollable events) is related to helplessness and passive behavior.
The presentation is also here on slideshare: