When Communication Accommodation Backfires: Interpersonal Effects of Social Power and Linguistic Style Accommodation in Computer-Mediated-Communication

Kate Muir, Adam Joinson, Rachel Cotterill, Nigel Dewdney

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Abstract

Within Communication Accommodation Theory, social power is an important influence upon the likelihood of accommodation in communicative behaviours. Across two studies, we explore if the influence of power extends to a non-conscious aspect of accommodation, linguistic style, and to computer mediated forms of communication. We manipulated social power experimentally to create a series of instant messaging conversations between high and low power participants. Low power induced greater likelihood of linguistic style accommodation, whilst in a low versus high power role (study 1) and when participants undertook both roles (study 2). Notably, linguistic style accommodation by individuals in a high power role ‘backfired’: greater accommodation was associated with a negative impression formed by their conversational partner. The results show robust effects of power in shaping language use across CMC. Further, the interpersonal effects of linguistic accommodation depend upon a complex interplay of social context, social norms, and the communication medium.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event66th International Communication Association Annual Conference - Japan, Fukuoka, Japan
Duration: 9 Jun 201613 Jun 2016

Conference

Conference66th International Communication Association Annual Conference
CountryJapan
CityFukuoka
Period9/06/1613/06/16

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  • Datasets

    English Speed Networking Conversational Transcripts LDC2016T16

    Muir, K. (Creator), Joinson, A. (Related Person), Cotterill, R. (Related Person) & Dewdney, N. (Related Person), Linguistic Data Consortium, 15 Jul 2016

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    Cite this

    Muir, K., Joinson, A., Cotterill, R., & Dewdney, N. (2016). When Communication Accommodation Backfires: Interpersonal Effects of Social Power and Linguistic Style Accommodation in Computer-Mediated-Communication. Paper presented at 66th International Communication Association Annual Conference, Fukuoka, Japan.