What is content analysis of verbal behavior and how can it be used?
The content analysis of language is a method of assessing what people say or write about in speech or texts and how strongly they may feel about their subject matter. Content analysis is quantitative, in that it is based on a tally of occurrences of particular words, constructions, concepts, or other linguistic phenomena in the input material. The basic tally may be transformed in a variety of ways, but lies at the heart of such analysis techniques. Content analysis has undergone considerable growth, especially in the past decade. A perusal of refereed journal articles involving the content analysis of language published over this period of time reveals articles originating from multiple disciplines and fields, including medicine, surgery, nursing, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, psychology, sociology, history, political science, marketing, advertising, and business management.
By focusing on relationships and attitudes, content analysis can be flexible with respect to specific word combinations and syntactical and grammatical relationships. It can evaluate materials containing not only conventional dictionary-defined words, but also idiomatic and slang expressions that are not defined in ordinary dictionaries, provided that the scorer is familiar with them. The process may include transformations of basic tallies with respect to the number of words examined, which enables the comparisons of content analysis scores with an individual over time and across individuals. If care is taken in quantization of scores, a particular scoring methodology may provide mathematical transformations of scores that make their frequency distribution parametric, rather than skewed and non-parametric, and by so doing permit the application of parametric statistical procedures for data assessment.
What makes content analysis a good choice for psychological and psychiatric evaluation?