Title: Mining for meaning in ego-documents


Type of assignment: Ma

Internal– or external?: Internal

Number of students: 2

New data collection: no

Type of research: mixed-method: hand coding; automated text mining; visual analytics

Nr of EC: 10 or 30 EC


There is a long tradition of using ego-documents for psychological research. This research has relied mainly on qualitative analysis. New developments in the use of computer-assisted analysis make it possible to look for patterns in meaning-making on a larger scale, and to connect these patterns to outcomes. In this assignment, you contribute to the development of this exciting new field, by partly manually and partly automatically analyzing a particular kind of ego-documents in an existing dataset of written narratives from the future and a well-being questionnaire (MHC-SF).

First, you will manually map the narrative structure of the written narratives from the future. This narrative structure consists of three elements: future situation, path towards the future, and closure. Second, you explore commonalities and differences in the way in which these elements occur in the narratives, to identify psychologically relevant patterns (e.g. path-situation-closure, situation-path-closure, path-closure, situation-closure, path-situation, situation-path).

Third, you explore the connections between these patterns and well-being, and/or the potential working mechanisms by using analyses run by an expert in text mining methods and visual analytics. Potential research questions include:


Which patterns of emotion words are indicative for the narrative structures?


Which patterns of cognition words are indicative for the narrative structures?


How do the narrative structures relate to well-being?

These questions help to gain insight in the working mechanisms of ego-documents such as narratives from the future. A narrative which does not imagine a path for example, but only a future situation, might be negatively related to the well-being of the writer because there is a lack of concrete steps and plans. Or it might be positively related to well-being, because there is extensive use of emotion words.

Supervisors: Anneke Sools (PGT) & Sytske Wiegersma (OMD)