University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut

Research and Publications

Research and Publications


nayweb13I find the bilingual brain fascinating. When bilinguals alternate between their languages they see the world differently. I have been doing research on personality and I have also collaborated with Dr. Garcia-Sierra doing research on speech perception. My research questions include:

*Do  bilinguals change their personality when they switch languages?
*How bilinguals change their perception of speech sounds as they switch languages?


Ramírez-Esparza, N., Gosling, S. D., Benet-Martínez, V., Potter, J., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2006). Do bilinguals have two personalities? A special case of cultural frame switching. Journal of Research in Personality, 40, 99-120. pdf

Ramírez-Esparza, N., Gosling, S. D., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2008). Paradox lost: Unraveling the puzzle of Simpatía. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 39, 703-715. pdf

García-Sierra A., Ramírez-Esparza, N., Silva-Pereyra, J., Siard, J., & Champlin, C. (2012). Assessing the double phonemic representation in bilingual speakers of Spanish and English: An electrophysiological study. Brain & Language, 121, 194-205. pdf

Ramírez-Esparza, N., & García-Sierra A. (2014). The bilingual brain: Language, Culture and Identity. In V. Benet-Martinez, & Y-y Hong (Eds.). (pp 35-56). Handbook of multicultural identity: Basic and applied perspectives. Oxford Press pdf

García-Sierra, A., Ramírez-Esparza, N., & Kuhl, K. P. (2016). Relationships between quantity of language input and brain responses in bilingual and monolingual infants. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 110, 1-17. pdf

Rodríguez-Arauz, G., Ramírez-Esparza, N., Pérez-Brena, N., & Boyd, R. L. (2017). Hablo Inglés y Español: Cultural Self-Schemas as a Function of Language. Frontiers in Psychology, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00885. pdf



My research questions include:

*Do people from different cultures behave differently as they engage in their daily activities?
*How people from different cultures construct their personalities?

*How can we measure personality and behaviors across cultures without relying on self-reports?

In order to answer these questions we have used the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR) and the Meaning Extraction Method (MEM). The EAR is an electronic recorder that can capture everyday behaviors and social interactions among people. The MEM uses several text analytic tools to extract the most meaningful themes used in written text.


Mehl, M. R., Vazire, S., Ramírez-Esparza, N., Slatcher, R. B., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2007). Are women really more talkative than men? Science, 317, 82. pdf

Ramírez-Esparza, N., Mehl, M. R., Alvarez-Bermúdez, J. & Pennebaker, J. W. (2009). Are Mexicans more sociable than Americans? Insights from a Naturalistic Observation Study. Journal of Research in Personality, 43, 1-7. pdf

Ramírez-Esparza, N., Chung, K. C., Sierra-Otero, G., & Pennebaker J. W. (2012).
Cross-cultural constructions of self-schemas: Americans and Mexicans. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 43, 233-250. pdf

Ikizer, E. G., Ramírez-Esparza, N., & Quinn, D. M. (2017). Culture and Concealable Stigmatized Identities: Examining Anticipated Stigma in the United States and Turkey. Stigma and Health, doi: pdf



For over a decade Dr. Pennebaker, his students and colleagues have explored the psychology of word use in the English-speaking world. As a cultural researcher I am interested in studying how people use words to talk about their illnesses across cultures and across languages.

*What is the word choice people use when they talk about their illness?

*Are there any cross-cultural and cross-language differences in the way people talk about their illness?


Ramírez-Esparza, N., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2006). Do good stories produce good health? Exploring words, language, and culture. Narrative Inquiry, 16, 221-229. pdf

Ramírez-Esparza, N., Pennebaker, J. W., García, A. F., & Suriá, R. (2007). La Psicología del Uso de las Palabras: Un Programa de Computadora que Analiza Textos en Español [The Psychology of Word Use: A Computer Program that Analyzes Texts in Spanish]. Revista Mexicana de Psicología, 24, 85-99. pdf

Ramírez-Esparza, N., Chung, C., Kacewicz, E., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2008). The Psychology of Word Use in Depression Forums in English and in Spanish: Testing Two Text Analytic Approaches. Proceedings of the International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM 2008). pdf

Ramírez-Esparza, N., Chung, K. C., Sierra-Otero, G., & Pennebaker J. W. (2009). El lenguaje de la depresión: Categorías lingüísticas y temas usados en foros de discusión en Internet en inglés y en español. Revista de la Asociación de Psicoterapia de Argentina. pdf

Rodríguez-Arauz, G., Ramírez-Esparza, N., & Smith-Castro, V. (2016). Food attitudes and well-being: The role of culture. Appetite, 105, 180-188. pdf

Rodríguez-Arauz, G. & Ramírez-Esparza, N. (2017). Parental practices, Healthy Eating and Objective Measures of Body Composition in Preschool Children. Actualidades en Psicología, 31 (122), 2017, 61-73. pdf

*In order to answer these questions we have used the LIWC a text analytic tool developed by Dr Pennebaker. To learn more about LIWC go to Dr. Pennebaker’s webpage. For the information in Spanish click here.


nayweb12As a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington we collected data from monolingual and bilingual infants and we assessed their everyday behaviors, social environment and language use. As part of this project I collaborated with Dr. Garcia-Sierra to collect infants’ brain responses.

*Do everyday social behaviors and language use influence infants’ well-being and language development?

* What are the differences between monolingual and bilingual families?

* What is the relationship between brain responses and language environment?


Ramírez-Esparza, N., García-Sierra A., & Kuhl, K. P. (2014). Look who’s talking: Speech style and social context in language input to infants is linked to concurrent and future speech development. Developmental Science, 17, 880-891. pdf

Ramírez-Esparza, N., García-Sierra, A., & Kuhl, P. K. (in press). The impact of early social interaction on later language development in Spanish-English bilingual infants. Child Development. pdf 

Ramírez-Esparza, N., García-Sierra, A. & Kuhl, P. K. (2017). Look Who’s Talking NOW! Parentese Speech, Social Context, and Language Development Across Time. Frontiers in Psychology, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01008. pdf

*In order to answer these questions we have used the Lena Recorder which records continuously for up-to sixteen hours. To learn more about our project click here.