People match each other’s language styles more during happier periods of their relationship than at other times, according to new research from psychologists at The University of Texas at Austin.
“When two people start a conversation, they usually begin talking alike within a matter of seconds,” says James Pennebaker, psychology professor and co-author of the study. “This also happens when people read a book or watch a movie. As soon as the credits roll, they find themselves talking like the author or the central characters.”
This tendency is called language style matching or LSM. It is the focus of Pennebaker’s and co-author Molly E. Ireland’s study published in the September issue of Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
“Because style matching is automatic,” says Ireland, a psychology graduate student, “it serves as an unobtrusive window into people’s close relationships with others.”
Ireland and Pennebaker tracked the language used by almost 2,000 college students as they responded to class assignments written in very different language styles. If the essay question was asked in a dry, confusing way, the students answered accordingly. If asked in a flighty, “Valley girl” way, the students punctuated their answers with “like,” “sorta” and “kinda.”
The researchers extended their work by analyzing the written language of famous authors. For example, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung wrote to each other almost weekly over a seven-year period as their careers were developing. Using style-matching statistics, Ireland and Pennebaker were able to chart the two men’s tempestuous relationship from their early days of joint admiration to their final days of mutual contempt by counting the ways they used pronouns, prepositions and other words, such as the, you, a and as, that have little meaning outside the context of the sentence.
The style-matching approach proved to be a powerful bellwether of marriages as well. Style-matching scores were calculated between poetry written by two pairs of spouses, Victorian poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning and 20th century poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, which mapped major changes in their relationships.
“Style words in the spouses’ poems were more similar during happier periods of their relationships and less synchronized toward each relationship’s end,” Ireland says.
Differences in style matching between the two couples were revealing as well. Even at the high point of their marriage, Hughes and Plath were less in sync than the historically more harmonious Brownings were at their lowest point.
Ireland and Pennebaker are investigating whether LSM during everyday conversation can be used to predict the beginning and end of romantic relationships. Style matching has the potential to quickly and easily reveal whether any given pair of people — ranging from business rivals to romantic partners — are psychologically on the same page and what this means for their future together.
Does this study make me feel any less embarrassed that especially in my teens I did mimicking behavior after watching a movie. I don’t have much of a southern accent – except apparently when I go to California and everyone asks me what part of the South I’m from. Locals, especially from rural areas, think I’m at least from Maryland. Having lived in Maryland I can say the rural natives have a southern accent even though they’re north of the Mason-Dixon line. I wonder about the out of sync nature – at least linguistically – between Plath and Hughes. Since Plath was probably suffering from some form of depression from an early age if her psychological state would have been a factor in not connecting with Hughes in the way Elizabeth Browning and Robert Browning did. Plath had issues with men – probably as a result of the relationship she had with her father – who was at least a dominating figure in her creative imagination. That might have been a factor in her emotional distance from Ted Hughes and thus the lack of LSM.
the mud puddles. there might be an actual mud puddles music group, but this poster is not about them.
Paul Krugman sounds as though he feels a little sorry for the rank and file tea baggers for being used, Fear and Favor
A note to Tea Party activists: This is not the movie you think it is. You probably imagine that you’re starring in “The Birth of a Nation,” but you’re actually just extras in a remake of “Citizen Kane.”
True, there have been some changes in the plot. In the original, Kane tried to buy high political office for himself. In the new version, he just puts politicians on his payroll.
I mean that literally. As Politico recently pointed out, every major contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination who isn’t currently holding office and isn’t named Mitt Romney is now a paid contributor to Fox News. Now, media moguls have often promoted the careers and campaigns of politicians they believe will serve their interests. But directly cutting checks to political favorites takes it to a whole new level of blatancy.
Arguably, this shouldn’t be surprising. Modern American conservatism is, in large part, a movement shaped by billionaires and their bank accounts, and assured paychecks for the ideologically loyal are an important part of the system. Scientists willing to deny the existence of man-made climate change, economists willing to declare that tax cuts for the rich are essential to growth, strategic thinkers willing to provide rationales for wars of choice, lawyers willing to provide defenses of torture, all can count on support from a network of organizations that may seem independent on the surface but are largely financed by a handful of ultrawealthy families.
[ ]…Nobody who was paying attention has ever doubted that Fox is, in reality, a part of the Republican political machine; but the network — with its Orwellian slogan, “fair and balanced” — has always denied the obvious. Officially, it still does. But by hiring those G.O.P. candidates, while at the same time making million-dollar contributions to the Republican Governors Association and the rabidly anti-Obama United States Chamber of Commerce, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, which owns Fox, is signaling that it no longer feels the need to make any effort to keep up appearances.
[ ]…As the Republican political analyst David Frum put it, “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we are discovering we work for Fox” — literally, in the case of all those non-Mitt-Romney presidential hopefuls. It was days later, by the way, that Mr. Frum was fired by the American Enterprise Institute. Conservatives criticize Fox at their peril.
Grass or plastic roots most of the tea baggers probably feel more empowered. Feelings are perceptions and most often in politics perception becomes the new reality. So average tea bagger in a case of political LSM is mimicking – and rather nicely, thank you very much – the agenda espoused by billionaires and their corporations. Should anyone feel sorry for them. To paraphrase Annie Lennox, some people like being used and abused. In this case the masochists-tea baggers are not in the closet, while inconsiderate of the rest of us, there is circus show quality which might appeal to voyeurs and sociology students.
Two years later, with TARP officially set to expire today, it’s an appropriate time to look back and evaluate that program’s effectiveness. And now that the fog of an intense financial panic has lifted, it’s clear that the critics and cynics were wrong. TARP has proven remarkably successful at stabilizing the economy and laying the foundation for future growth.
Today, our economy is healing. Because of the enormity of the challenges we faced, unemployment is still unacceptably high and growth has not yet reached an acceptable pace. But we’re on the path to recovery. Businesses have added jobs for eight straight months. Private investment and confidence in banks have returned. The cost of borrowing for businesses, municipalities and individuals has declined dramatically.
The TARP investments that the Bush and Obama administrations made in GM and Chrysler, as well as the hard decisions that those companies made to adapt and compete, turned those automakers around and saved at least one million jobs. Since GM and Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy, the auto industry has added 76,300 jobs – the strongest growth in 10 years – and for the first time since 2004, all of the big three American auto companies are operating profitably.
In fact, independent experts have estimated that overall, without the federal government’s response to the financial crisis, including TARP, there would be nearly 8.5 million fewer jobs today and the unemployment rate would exceed 15 percent.
Human beings in general and double down on that in the U.S. hate it when they perceive someone getting something they don’t deserve. So much so they can and will ignore the good done for many because of the few undeserving. Though there isn’t much consistency in that resentment. Someone will get very upset after seeing someone buy a bag of gummy bears with food stamps – a major infraction of the unwritten moral code attached to public assistance, yet become outraged when a mutli-billion dollar corporations such as BP has it’s feelings hurt – who knew corporations had feelings to go with those free speech rights the conservative Supreme Court says they have. This resentment toward unearned rewards has not stopped the U.S. from becoming a corporate oligarchy, but we can all rest assured that it will prevent us from adopting a socialist economy. Ironically liberals – always wrongheadedly labeled de facto socialists – possess this quality in greater degree than conservatives. Conservatives seem very happy with the illusions of freedom granted to them by their corporate masters.