When Asking “What” and “How” Helps You Win: Mimicry of Interrogative Terms Facilitates Successful Online Negotiations

Kate Muir, Adam Joinson, Emily Collins, Rachel Cotterill, Nigel Dewdney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (SciVal)


Strategic word mimicry during negotiations facilitates better outcomes. We explore mimicry of specific word categories and perceptions of rapport, trust, and liking as underlying mechanisms. Dyads took part in an online negotiation exercise in which word mimicry was manipulated: Participants were instructed to mimic each other’s words (both-mimic), one participant mimicked the other (half-mimic), or neither participant mimicked (neither-mimic). When given a simple instruction to mimic their partner, participants mimicked both the style (personal pronouns, adverbs, linguistic style, interrogative terms) and the content (affiliation terms, power terms, and assents) of their partner’s messages. Mimicry was associated with greater joint and individual points gain and perceptions of rapport from the mimicked partner. Further, mimicry of interrogative terms (e.g., how, why) mediated positive effects of mimicry upon negotiation outcomes, suggesting the coordination of question asking between negotiators is an important strategy to create beneficial interactions and add value in negotiations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-110
Number of pages17
JournalNegotiation and Conflict Management Research
Issue number2
Early online date26 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2021


  • interpersonal impressions
  • language style matching
  • linguistic style
  • mimicry
  • negotiations
  • question asking
  • rapport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Strategy and Management


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