Muddy matches speed dating

But in the exchange at left, Sophie matches Boris’s polite style, as seen in their use of personal pronouns ().In the exchange at right, Ethan’s language likewise shows signs of flexibility and engagement; by contrast, Vickie remains distant and indifferent — she is not interested in making Ethan happy at her expense.The language-analysis software they developed, called Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC, pronounced “Luke”), contains a dictionary of thousands of words, sorted into dozens of categories — for example, words connoting anger, words pertaining to the body, or causal words such as “because.” The software parses any text file (including transcriptions of spoken language) and tallies the number of words that fall into particular categories.Although Pennebaker’s program can examine any number of word categories, he discovered the most psychologically revealing results came from counting “function words” such as personal pronouns (like ).“It just bugged the hell out of me,” Pennebaker says.

Ireland, working in Pennebaker’s lab, was fascinated by the notion of such “antagonistic style matching,” which she regarded as a form of behavioral mimicry.Studies of brain-damaged patients have shown that the same brain area responsible for processing such words — a region in the left frontal lobe known as Broca’s area — is also involved in social tasks, such as recognizing emotional expressions.Some research indicates this area also contains mirror neurons, specialized cells that may be involved in imitation and empathy.The answer came to him as he was listening to the car radio one day.

He heard a snippet of dialogue from a play about a couple in the midst of breaking up and noticed they were using language almost identically.Musing as he drove, Pennebaker thought of the way angry drivers hurl matching F-bombs.


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