Frequently Asked Questions
What is the EffectCheck® system?
EffectCheck is a patented system and method from Effect Technologies, Inc. The approach was developed over a period of 10 years by an artificial intelligence expert and a veteran clinical psychologist. The system and method is patented, both in the United States and Canada. Other patents are pending. The EffectCheck emotional thesaurus has over 50,000 words and phrases, each scored with respect to the emotional scales we employ.
How does EffectCheck work?
EffectCheck uses a revolutionary and patented system and method for analyzing text. This system examines what’s called the “lexical meaning” of words and phrases. This is the meaning of the words and phrases literally, not in terms of the context that they are being used. Analysis is performed on six different emotional scales: anxiety, hostility, depression, confidence, compassion, and happiness.
Can you give me an example of the difference between lexical meaning and contextual meaning?
Contextual meaning is the meaning in the context of what’s being written. For example, the two sentences “That’s a really funny joke” and “That joke just kills me” mean essentially the same thing in context. But in terms of lexical meaning, “That joke just kills me” evokes hostility and anxiety, in addition to confidence, compassion, and happiness.
But why focus on the lexical meaning of words and phrases?
We are biologically wired for survival. Psychologists know that our primitive "reptilian brain" still plays a large part in how we view and respond to the world around us. The lexical meaning of words and phrases can directly alter our emotions and behaviors. Thus, it’s important when communicating to understand not only the context of what you are writing or saying, but also the lexical impact of that communication.
Has this effect been studied by social scientists?
Yes, it has, and for many decades. Studies have been published in clinical psychology journals. Here’s one example. In a 1977 study, when the word “hostile” was flashed in front of a group of people they judged others more negatively than a control group that did not have “hostile” flashed in front of them. Here’s another. In a 1996 study, when people were showed the word “elderly” for a brief moment while doing a different task, then subsequently walked slower than those who did not see the word “elderly.” These are just two examples from a large psychological literature and decades of research.
How about something more recent?
In 2011, three researchers from the University of Chicago, Hebrew University, and Cornell University studied the effects of seeing the American flag on the U.S. voting population. They found that even “brief exposure to an American flag resulted in a significant increase in participants’ Republican voting intentions, voting behavior, political beliefs, and implicit and explicit attitudes, with some effects lasting eight months.”
Which journals published these studies?
The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (1997, Volume 13, pp. 141-154), the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1996, Volume 71, pp. 230-244), and Psychological Science (2011, Volume 22, pp. 1011-1018). You can find them in most university biomedical or science libraries if you want to read the original publications. With a little searching, you will find many more related investigations.
So does EffectCheck make an assessment of me based on my own writing?
EffectCheck assesses the tendency for emotional reaction as may be evoked in someone who reads what you’ve written. It’s more about what effect your words are having on others, rather than an examination of you. There’s always a possibility that we project our own emotions onto others, but EffectCheck focuses on helping you understand what emotions someone reading or listening to your communication may be more likely to have.
Everybody is different. How do you know that people will react in certain ways to my writing?
Everyone is indeed different, and EffectCheck doesn’t know anything more about your intended recipient than can be made by an inference about them using standard interpretations of words and phrases. If the person reading your profile is afraid of butterflies, and you mention butterflies in your profile, his or her anxiety level may be higher than expected. Also, language evolves over time, and although we adapt our emotional dictionaries to adjust to that evolution, it’s always possible that our dictionaries may not score certain words or phrases appropriately. EffectCheck acts as a guide to better understanding the possible emotional reaction that may be evoked generally. If you have specialized information about your intended recipient, you should employ your best judgment as to how to modify or interpret what EffectCheck suggests.
You say EffectCheck doesn’t know the context of what I’m saying, but looks only at the words and phrases. So does this mean that I can spoof your system by entering in words at random?
EffectCheck has no idea what you are saying in context. So you will get exactly the same overall assessment from the system if you type in the Gettysburg Address, or if you jumble up all of Lincoln’s words and enter them in a random order (unless you happen to break up the words in a phrase while doing that). The adage of “garbage in, garbage out” applies here. If you type in gibberish, EffectCheck will proceed to score your gibberish, and that won’t help you at all. It might be entertaining though. To get the best results, use the site honestly.
EffectCheck assesses the lexical impact of words and phrases on six emotional scales. Please explain these scales and the assessment that EffectCheck offers.
EffectCheck measures the lexical impact of your words and phrases on six different emotional scales: anxiety, hostility, depression, confidence, compassion, and happiness. EffectCheck compares how your profile scores on these scales to standardized values that represent very low, low, typical, high, or very high effects on each scale. These values are benchmarked or “normalized” depending on the type of communication you indicate. For example, you may indicate your letter is a “thank you letter” or a “complaint letter.” EffectCheck will take this into account. These scores are then reported to you directly.
How does EffectCheck report the scores on each emotional scale?
EffectCheck offers a histogram that indicates the relative lexical levels of anxiety, hostility, depression, confidence, compassion, and happiness. Each of these scales is color-coded: light blue is for anxiety, red is for hostility, dark blue is for depression, magenta is for confidence, green is for compassion, and orange is for happiness. You can “mouse over” the histogram to see the average score for any particular emotion on a per-word basis. You can also click on a histogram bar and all of the words and phrases that are associated in that emotional scale will be highlighted. The words and phrases in bold font evoke higher levels of emotion on that scale.
Can EffectCheck suggest alternative words for me to try?
Yes. EffectCheck relies on an emotional thesaurus of over 50,000 words and phrases. When you highlight words in a particular emotional scale, you can then click on individual words and see potential substitutions for those words. In some cases, EffectCheck can suggest ways to lower or raise the level of emotion you may evoke on a particular scale, such as by changing “like” to “love” on the happiness scale. Remember that EffectCheck doesn’t know the context of what you are saying, so it’s likely that you’ll see some substitute words that do not make sense in the context you intend. Even then, EffectCheck can serve to prompt you to think of other ways to phrase things. It can also suggest a need to rewrite, reorder, or otherwise revise your text entirely.
What browsers can I use for EffectCheck?
EffectCheck was designed to be used with the most recent versions of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari. Older versions of the browsers may not function properly, and graphics may appear distorted. Please ensure you are using the most recent version of your browser to ensure the best performance.
I subscribe to the professional version. Can my employees use EffectCheck based on my subscription?
Your subscription, as indicated in the terms of service, is for you as a unique subscriber. It provides you with a single license. If your company holds the single license, then any one employee can use EffectCheck at one time. If you’d like multiple licenses so people can use EffectCheck in parallel, please subscribe accordingly. If you would like to contact us about discounts for larger numbers of licenses please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How much does it cost to use EffectCheck?
EffectCheck is available by subscription at $499/month per active user. Discounts are available for multi-user licenses and long-term subscriptions. Contact email@example.com for more information.
How do I cancel my subscription to EffectCheck?
You can cancel your subscription by following the instructions given at your login. Please note that we are unable to refund the unused portion of your subscription in a month, so you may want to do yourself a favor and cancel at the end of your subscription period to get the most benefit from EffectCheck.
I’d like to have a version of the EffectCheck emotional thesaurus tailored for my specific application. Is that possible?
Yes it is. We can modify the EffectCheck thesaurus for your application on a contract basis and then provide you a license for using the revised thesaurus by subscription. We find this most useful in specific application areas such as medicine, politics, and the law, but you may have another application in mind.
What happens if I misspell a word or two? Will EffectCheck understand what I mean anyway?
EffectCheck has no ability to correct your spelling or interpret your misspellings. For best results, we strongly advise you to spell check your writing prior to analyzing it with EffectCheck. What’s more, we strongly advise you to spell check your communications before you send them. We don’t know many people who have a favorable view of sloppy spelling.
Does EffectCheck work in any language other than English?
Does EffectCheck understand an emphasized word typed in a manner that would otherwise be a spelling error, for example, instead of “I’m so tired” it could be “I’m sooooooo tired?”
Not yet. We expect to be adding functionality like this in the future.
How does EffectCheck handle words that are spelled the same but sound different?
These are called homographs, words that are written the same but mean different things. For example, if you wrote “I dropped a knife on my foot and wound up getting a wound,” your brain will know which wound is bleeding. Currently, EffectCheck will most often make an assessment of a homograph and assess the likely effects on all emotional scales in the primary or most common usage of the homograph. We are working to allow EffectCheck to handle homographs more specifically. Stay tuned for further developments.
How long does it take EffectCheck to analyze a letter or document?
We find it takes only a few seconds to score typical entries. If your document is very long, it will take longer.
What if I get a result that makes me want to change what I’ve written?
Have a look at your document and think about which words or phrases may be generating the emotional scores you would like to adjust. If you are seeing results that are high in anxiety, hostility, or depression, and you would rather not evoke these emotions, look for words that are associated with those emotions. Remember, even if you are using them in a different context, the lexical impact of the words is what EffectCheck is scoring. So you may write “I’m not afraid of spiders,” and in context we know what that means. Lexically, your brain is interpreting “not,” “afraid,” and “spiders.” By the way, dating experts often recommend phrasing things positively. They favor “I’ll see you at 7:15” in contrast with “No, I can’t make it at 7:00. How about 15 minutes later?” With a bit of practice, you’ll have a better insight into when to evoke each of the emotions that EffectCheck assesses. Sometimes raising anxiety can be most effective in eliciting action; at the other times, you may want to reduce anxiety and increase compassion, happiness, or other emotions. You should assess what you are trying to accomplish with your communication and make the most appropriate choice based on your judgment.
Can I use the EffectCheck program for a purpose other than you’ve intended?
You can use EffectCheck in any way at all, just so long as you are compliant with the terms of service. Please remember that Effect Technologies, Inc. assumes no liability whatsoever for any purpose that you use EffectCheck. Your writing and its consequences are your responsibility. If you’d like to license the EffectCheck thesaurus as part of another product or service please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s funny. I’ve read all of these questions and answers, and even though they are very informative, I still have a feeling of anxiety. Any thought on that?
Yes. When we analyzed the questions and answers using the EffectCheck system, we found that the lexical impact was a bit high on anxiety. So that may be a source of what you are feeling. But that’s likely normal in a question and answer format. Anxiety is strongly related to a concern about an unknown future possible event. So questions, which seek to clarify uncertainties, and anxiety go hand in glove. You can relieve some of your anxiety by getting started with EffectCheck and seeing it at work.