Date of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Psychology, PhD


School of Social Science, Politics, and Evaluation

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Tarek Azzam

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Leslie A. Fierro

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Tiffany Berry

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2023 Phung K Pham


COVID-19, Emergency medicine, Evaluation, Linguistic signals, LIWC, Q-methodology

Subject Categories



Evaluation and emergency medicine have appreciable parallels and are likely to intertwine as they each evolve, especially in response to disasters or other pervasive problems that can worsen into the future. Evaluative thinking—which largely involves critical thinking, valuing, and other dynamic processes—may be ubiquitously useful to practitioners, scholars, and others from both these fields of practice. In this dissertation, I referenced the dual systems theory of the human mind to conceptualize evaluative thinking as paradoxically fast (automatic) and slow (deliberate), and I characterized the COVID-19 pandemic as a disaster laden with societal games. Derived from game theory, societal games range from the formal ones played by disciplines and fields of practice to the informal and diffuse games of social movements and special interests. I sought to answer two research questions. First, what are the manifestations of evaluative thinking within and between evaluation and emergency medicine amid disaster? Second, what linguistic patterns emerge from evaluative thinking amid disaster? My research design was multimethod, involving Q-methodology and function word analysis. I used purposive sampling to obtain two samples—one representing the context of evaluation ( n = 32) and another representing the context of emergency medicine ( n = 31). All research participants were professionals working in settings related to health and disasters, emergencies, and/or crises. Amid disaster, I found six styles of evaluative thinking in the evaluation context ( clarere, justificare, movere, verificare, informare, ponderare ) and three styles in the emergency medicine context ( cernere, librare, delineare ). Using intuition to render judgments is the most automatic process in the verificare, cernere , and delineare styles. Considering the availability of resources is the most deliberate process in the ponderare and delineare styles, while challenging personal beliefs and opinions is the most deliberate process in the clarere and librare styles. Whereas reflecting specifically on closing the gap between current and desired states is most deliberate in the cernere style, it is most automatic in the ponderare style. Lastly, broad reflection is most deliberate in movere and informare , deliberate in justificare and librare , automatic in clarere and ponderare , and circumstantial in the remaining styles. Function words in the English language may be divided into eight categories. On average across evaluative thinking styles, rates of personal pronouns, impersonal pronouns, conjunctions, auxiliary verbs , and non-referential adverbs were higher during the speaking mode than writing mode, while the rates of articles, prepositions, and negations were similar between modes. There were significant mode x style interaction effects for prepositions and articles, though the mean rates of these function words were similar between modes for most styles. There were also significant interaction effects for conjunctions and auxiliary verbs , though the mean rates of these function words were higher during speaking than writing for most styles. Furthermore, the relatively higher rates of spoken (compared to written) pronouns, conjunctions, auxiliary verbs, and non-referential adverbs with the relatively similar rates of spoken and written articles, prepositions , and negations suggest that even with different styles of evaluative thinking and societal games at play, professionals working in disaster, emergency, or crisis settings gravitate toward talking with others in an accessible manner while maintaining a sense of authority that is inherent in their written work. In conclusion, this dissertation contributes to the empirical evaluative thinking literature by providing insights into the nature of evaluative thinking amid disaster, and it also comprises an initial foundation upon which to further probe linguistic signals that help evaluators and other professionals recognize and express different styles of evaluative thinking.



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