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The language of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Investigating official communication and its relations with collective and individual emotions

Researchers Involved

Dr. Andrea B. Horn

Prof. Dr. Viktor von Wyl

Tabea Meier

research areas

Coping strategies


2020 - 2022

Are there societally impactful divergences in language styles and references to the disease and virus that are related to collective emotional responsive? This project aims at understanding the linguistic fingerprints of public communications and their impact on collective and individual emotional responses and coping strategies.


In the current crisis, press conferences by non-medical experts, such as political leaders, have the potential for huge impacts on public health. It is evident that each individual government’s leaders presented the same essential content – disease information, public advice, behavioral restrictions – in remarkably different ways. However, the complex interplay between each source’s linguistic style and the social psychological landscape of each nation remains poorly understood.

Project goals

Our proposed research aims at understanding the linguistic fingerprint of these public communications and their differential impact on collective and individual emotional responses and coping strategies (language use in Twitter – individual texts and questionnaires).

Research Questions

Are there systematic differences between public communications in USA, UK, Germany and Switzerland? More specifically, are there societally impactful divergences in language styles (reflecting, e.g., analytical vs. narrative thinking (Jordan & Pennebaker, 2017; Pennebaker, Chung, Frazee, Lavergne, & Beaver, 2014) and references to the disease and virus (“Corona”, “Chinese virus”, “COVID-19” etc.)? Are these differences related to collective emotional responses in Twitter over time and to intra- and interpersonal emotional regulation as measured in questionnaires and essays (Horn & Maercker, 2016; Horn, Samson, Debrot, & Perrez, 2019)? Additionally, we will explore how the language in official governmental communications are meaningful contributors to infection rates within their corresponding locales as the ultimate outcome of successful health communication during the crisis.


 Analysis of language “style” (rather than language “content”) – psycholinguistic fingerprinting that can be parallelly studied across languages used in governmental communication regarding COVID-crisis and emotional responses in Twitter feds/ individual writings and infection rates


Olenka Dworakowski, Zilla M. Huber, Tabea Meier, Ryan L. Boyd & Andrea B. Horn (2021) Emotion regulation across the lifespan: age differences in intrapersonal and interpersonal strategies for the adjustment to the COVID-19 pandemic in four countries, Aging & Mental Health, DOI: 10.1080/13607863.2021.1972933