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The current study uses two experiments to explore how a range of social and cognitive variables affect linguistic alignment. Experiment 1 examines the effects of a number of individual difference variables (inhibitory control, pattern learning, creativity, trait conformity, and the need to belong), while Experiment 2 focuses on one specific social variable—female fertility. In order to look at linguistic alignment (or a lack thereof), the study employs a picture description task in which dyads (each dyad is comprised of one participant and one confederate) take turns describing pictures to each other. Both experiments measured the degree to which participants aligned with confederates on sentence structure, and Experiment 2 also measured alignment of vocal pitch within the dyads. The results of Experiment 1 suggest that individual differences do not affect the amount of alignment of sentence structure. However, the results of Experiment 2 reveal that the fertility level of a female conversational partner affects the degree to which men align with women on sentence structure. Specifically, men were less likely to align with the sentence structure of a woman who was at high fertility than with the sentence structure of a woman who was at a lower level of fertility. Experiment 2 also demonstrates that men and women in conversation do align on vocal pitch. Possible explanations and implications are discussed.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Michael Kaschak, Professor Directing Thesis; Gretchen Sunderman, University Representative; Colleen Kelley, Committee Member; Jon Maner, Committee Member; E. Ashby Plant, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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