Love to chat
Conducted by researchers from the University of Texas at Austin, the study examined “function words” to see if their use had any correlation with the long-term prospects of a relationship. Function words are words that show how nouns and verbs relate – a, the, will, and, etc. According to James Pennebaker, who co-authored the study, these words constitute our writing and speaking styles, and they are also “highly social”.
From Science Daily:
They conducted two experiments in which a computer program compared partners’ language styles.
In the first study, pairs of college students had four-minute speed dates while their conversations were recorded. Almost every pair covered the same topics: What’s your major? Where are you from? How do you like college? Every conversation sounded more or less the same to the naked ear, but text analysis revealed stark differences in language synchrony. The pairs whose language style matching scores were above average were almost four times as likely to want future contact as pairs whose speaking styles were out of sync.
A second study revealed the same pattern in everyday online chats between dating couples over the course of 10 days. Almost 80 percent of the couples whose writing style matched were still dating three months later, compared with approximately 54 percent of the couples who didn’t match as well.
What people are saying to each other is important, but how they are saying it may be even more telling. People aren’t consciously synchronizing their speech, Pennebaker says. “What’s wonderful about this is we don’t really make that decision; it just comes out of our mouths.”
If this post has made you a little worried about where your relationship is going (sorry!), then visit the study’s ‘Language Style Matching’ application to test the theory! Just don’t take it too seriously…