Can the Use of Linguistic Power Persuade Us?
Which style of languages do we use to persuade someone? Do we speak with more assertiveness and confidence in our tone of voice? Do we communicate with our body language? Do we tend to pay more attention to the opposite sex addressing the message? The key thing that studies have shown is that individuals are persuaded more by powerful style of speaking. Powerful style of speaking is the absence of hesitations (e.g.,um ¦), hedges (e.g., I kinda think ¦), and tag questions (e.g., right? ¦OK?). In other words, the speaker is competent, has credibility, and speaks authoritatively. The following study by Thomas Holtgraves and Benjamin Lasky in 1999 discusses the methods and the results of whether linguistic power might have any effect on persuasion.
The purpose of the research was to examine the role of linguistic power in persuasion. The participants for the study were 190 (94 men and 96 women) introductory psychology students at Ball State University. There were three variables manipulated, and all students were delivered by the same message concerning comprehensive exams at Ohio University. First, half of the students heard the powerful version of the message, and half heard the powerless version. Second, half of the students counted the location of Xs on a screen while listening to the message, and the remainder did nothing, but simply listen. These non-distracted participants were the control group. Third, half of the students heard a message given by a female speaker, and the other half heard a message given by a male speaker. Then the students were supplied with questionnaires, which consisted of questions ranging from issue agreement to presentation of the speakers. They were also given extra sheets to list what thoughts occurred to them while listening to the message. Briefly, those were the procedures taken to measure the outcome of linguistic power in persuasion.