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UCREL Corpus Research Seminar: Language Style Matching and Cooperation

Date: 29 November 2012 Time: 2-3:00 pm

Venue: George Fox LT3

UCREL Corpus Research Seminar

Language Style Matching and Cooperation

Beth Richardson (Psychology, Lancaster University)

Verbal mimicry has recently received attention due to its potential to facilitate outcomes in a range of social and forensic settings. Building upon previous theories of language and language synchrony, this research applies a novel approach to the study of a specific type of verbal mimicry termed Language or Linguistic Style Matching (LSM). This relatively new theory within synchrony research focuses on function words for three main reasons. First, function words are strictly social words, meaning they are not influenced by the content of communication. Second, function words are ubiquitous in daily speech. Third, they are typically used unconsciously by speakers, thus providing a good indication of an individual's genuine style of speech. LSM permits analysis of both aggregate and turn-by-turn matching, giving an indication of which speaker is leading the interaction and therefore has greater control of linguistic style. In an analysis of 75 Canadian police interrogations, LSM was associated with likelihood of suspect confession. This outcome was strongly influenced by interaction dominance. For example, a confession was more likely to occur in interactions where the suspect mimicked the linguistic style of the interrogator, rather than when reverse patterns were shown. These findings highlight the potential for the development of LSM as a strategic tool, which can be used to improve outcomes in such interaction. Specifically, development of a training program shows that, when used appropriately, strategic mimicry can be used to engender cooperation.

Event website:


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Computing and Communications, Linguistics and English Language, Psychology, University Centre for Computer Corpus Research on Language (UCREL)


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