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Abstract

The primary purpose of the study was to examine the impact of the length of juvenile offenders’ stay in a residential facility on attitudinal changes, measured by language use of 22 participants’ interviews analyzed by using a computerized text tool called Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) to obtain a measure of language use. A series of one-way ANOVA (SPSS 18.0 version) were used to examine the differences between the groups identified by the length of stay and interview interval. The results indicate that the length of stay significantly impacts language use regarding the language categories of affective process words and personal concerns. Participants with shorter residence (less than 1 month) expressed a higher rate of negative and money-related words while the group with longer residence (more than 5 months) tended to yield a higher rate of cognitive process words. Findings demonstrate how language expressions may provide a concrete indicator of adjudicated adolescents’ own cognitive or attitudinal changes over time.