Skip to main content
Spring 2012
Print Bookmark and Share

Senior Portraits

Rachel Boochever

Text: Hannah Stamler ’12 | Photo: Kent Loeffler

Rachel Boochever

Facebook, text messages and emails are part of most Cornellians’ daily routines. For Rachel Boochever, however, they take on a whole new meaning.

A communication major, Rachel studies the way we interact with new media forms and what our online or text behavior says about our personalities. Her senior honors thesis analyzes the language we use in social media in relation to psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism.

The study uses data from anonymous surveys,not from her friends’ Facebook pages and phonebooks, she is quick to point out. Once collected, the data is filtered through Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count software. This program looks for different linguistic markers, which can be used to determine personality traits and emotions.

Rachel first became interested in the topic through her work in the Social Media Lab. She started at the end of her freshman year and is now a lab manager. Through the lab, Rachel has collaborated on numerous projects with professors in the Department of Communication, including Jeff Hancock, her thesis adviser.

Working in the lab has allowed her to gain research experience, as well as to discover and pursue her own interests.

“There is so much freedom of expression and opportunity to study what you want,” she said.

The ability to tailor her education to fit her interests is part of what prompted Rachel to apply to Cornell in the first place. Originally from outside of Albany, Rachel was attracted to Cornell because its Department of Communication is unlike most others. Apart from teaching effective communication, the department focuses heavily on theory. Rachel said she has been taught the psychology of how people interact, and she has learned novel ways of thinking and analyzing problems. She also praised the department for its commitment to explore new media forms, rather than being limited to traditional ones.

Rachel also happens to come from a long line of Cornellians.

“My parents met their senior year at Cornell,” she said. Her brother graduated from Cornell last May.

Her time at Cornell has afforded Rachel other opportunities, too. She is president of the Association for Women in Communications, an organizer for Into the Streets (Cornell’s largest day of public service), and a member of Sigma Delta Tau. Last year, she studied abroad in Rome, which was an incredible experience, she said.

After graduation, she is headed to San Francisco to put her communication skills to work as an analyst at Nielsen.