Think you’re good at keeping your cards close to your chest when you’re stressed? You’re probably blowing your cover without even realising it.
According to a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of sciences, we unknowingly use way more adverbs and adjectives when we’re wound up.
Professor of Pyschology at the University of Arizona, Matthias Mehl, asked 143 US volunteers to wear voice recorders for two days and analysed their speaking habits.
As soon as the subjects’ tensions began to rise, he found they would beef up their vocab with describing words (such as “really” and “incredibly) but neglect to use third-person plural pronouns (like “they” or “their.”)
Along with the voice recordings, Professor Mehl also studied expression in the participants’ white blood cells of 50 genes influenced by stress.
Incredibly, Mehl told Nature that the speech analysis was more accurate than the biological data. He also added that the subjects’ language actually “diagnosed” stress better than their own assessment of whether or not they were feeling that way inclined.
In short: next time you’re trying to keep your cool under pressure, choose your words wisely.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health.