Pronoun Use Reflects Standings in Social Hierarchies

Ewa Kacewicz, James Pennebaker, Matthew Davis, Moongee Jeon, Arthur C. Graesser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

85 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Five studies explored the ways relative rank is revealed among individuals in small groups through their natural use of pronouns. In Experiment 1, four-person groups worked on a decision-making task with randomly assigned leadership status. In Studies 2 and 3, two-person groups either worked on a task or chatted informally in a get-to-know-you session. Study 4 was a naturalistic study of incoming and outgoing e-mail of 9 participants who provided information on their correspondents' relative status. The last study examined 40 letters written by soldiers in the regime of Saddam Hussein. Computerized text analyses across the five studies found that people with higher status consistently used fewer first-person singular, and more first-person plural and second-person singular pronouns. Natural language use during group interaction suggests that status is associated with attentional biases, such that higher rank is linked with other-focus whereas lower rank is linked with self-focus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-143
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Volume33
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014

Fingerprint

Social Hierarchy
human being
group interaction
Military Personnel
Postal Service
e-mail
soldier
small group
Decision Making
Language
Group
Pronoun
regime
leadership
decision making
experiment
trend
language
Person
First Person

Keywords

  • language
  • leadership
  • power
  • pronouns
  • social hierarchy
  • status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language

Cite this

Pronoun Use Reflects Standings in Social Hierarchies. / Kacewicz, Ewa; Pennebaker, James; Davis, Matthew; Jeon, Moongee; Graesser, Arthur C.

In: Journal of Language and Social Psychology, Vol. 33, No. 2, 01.03.2014, p. 125-143.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Kacewicz, Ewa ; Pennebaker, James ; Davis, Matthew ; Jeon, Moongee ; Graesser, Arthur C. / Pronoun Use Reflects Standings in Social Hierarchies. In: Journal of Language and Social Psychology. 2014 ; Vol. 33, No. 2. pp. 125-143.
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