Content Analysis of Verbal Behavior: New Findings and Clinical Applications

Content Analysis of Verbal Behavior: New Findings and Clinical Applications

Content Analysis of Verbal Behavior: New Findings and Clinical Applications

Content Analysis of Verbal Behavior: New Findings and Clinical Applications


Focusing on language and the assessment of its meaning, this volume concentrates on a method of content analysis developed by the author and Goldine Gleser. Applicable to transcripts of speech or verbal texts, this method uses the grammatical clause as its smallest unit of communication, considers whether or not a verb is transitive and involves an object, or is intransitive and describes a state of being. It derives scores on many scales that have been tested for reliability of scoring and for construct validity with concurrently administered measures, such as rating and self-report scales as well as biochemical and pharmacological criteria. Finally, this volume provides detailed descriptions of the clinical and basic research establishing the validity of these scales, so that a reader can locate studies that have pertinence to any special interest area.

A major achievement described in this book is the development of computer software that understands grammar and syntax, can parse natural language, knows most of the words in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, has been taught to identify idioms and slang, and is capable of continuing to learn. The program can score all the scales, report whether the scores obtained from a verbal sample are one to three standard deviations from the norms, and suggest APA DSM-IIIR diagnostic classifications the clinician might consider in assessing the patient.


The processing of the raw data of speech and the conversion of these data into scales measuring a psychological dimension affords many points where distortion and random error may occur. Errors may occur as a result of fluctuations in the fidelity of recording of speech, distortions or misinterpretations in the processing of the typescript, variations in interpreting coding classifications and applying them to the verbal categories of a scale, and mistakes made in the tabulation and computation of final scores. These processing errors limit the interpretability of scores, regardless of the purposes for which such measures are obtained. These can be reduced to a minimum by the use of various controls and checks.

Poor recordings of speech can be avoided by keeping recorders in good condition, using sensitive microphones that can record voices at varying distances, obtaining speech samples in relatively quiet surroundings, and making certain that the interviewer knows how to use the recording instrument. The skill of the interviewer with an audiorecorder is of considerable importance, because many studies require taking audio recordings under conditions that are less than optimal.

It may be surprising that distortions and misinterpretations of the transcriptions of an audiorecording can so readily occur. Transcribers have a proclivity to perceive external signs and symbols in terms of the private meanings that are . . .

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