Linguistic Dating Advice….

love wordThe little things really do matter.

All this time, you’ve probably been focusing on WHAT your date is saying, when apparently, you really should have been looking at HOW he/she says it. And not in terms of banal things like tone or looking longingly into your eyes, but the words themselves. Or more accurately, the words around the words.

That’s right, it turns out there’s a correlation between similar use of near-meaningless function phrases (such as the, that, I, and, this) and romantic interest. According to James Pennebaker, Psychology Professor at the University of Texas, Austin:

“[We can] look at … a young dating couple… [and] the more similar [they] are … using this language style matching metric, the more likely [they] will still be dating three months from now.”

Now, before you modify your love lexicon, note that we’re not attracted to people because of sexily similar pronoun use. Rather, when we’re already attracted, we start to subconsciously mirror each other’s language use. Pennebaker again:

“When two people are paying close attention, they use language in the same way… it’s one of these things that humans do automatically.”

Pennebaker and his students built the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count, which can analyze a wealth linguistic data. NPR wrote about some of the research in a great article that also discusses the power dynamics of using “I” more often (and it’s not what you may think).

But folks, the big takeaway here is that we can finally find out if that new office crush really is interested: Simply transcribe your conversations word for word, do a side-by-side pronoun analysis, and all the secrets of love will be unleashed!

Go forth, and let me know how it goes…

#LinguistsInLove

~C.B.

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