Communicating expectancies about others

D.H.J. Wigboldus, R. Spears, G.R. Semin

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    Abstract

    The linguistic expectancy bias hypothesis predicts that, in general, person impressions are shared with others via subtle differences in the level of linguistic abstraction that is used to communicate expected and unexpected information about an individual. In a two-part communication experiment, we examined this hypothesis. In the first part of the experiment communicators were asked to provide a description of an event where a good friend had behaved in an expected or unexpected way. In the second part, recipients of these stories who were blind to the conditions under which the description was generated judged whether the story target's behavior was due to dispositional or situational factors. Behaviors in expected events were judged to be more dispositional relative to behaviors in unexpected events. As predicted, the level of linguistic abstraction mediated this effect. It is concluded that person impressions may be transmitted and formed at an interpersonal level via differential language use. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)815-824
    Number of pages10
    JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
    Volume36
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2006

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