The Language of Extremity Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Using the linguistic software Linguistic Inquiry Word Count, we analyzed transcripts of group discussions of whether the words “under God” should be in the Pledge of Allegiance. We hypothesized that members with an extreme opinion would use less complex language and more you pronouns than other members. Furthermore, extreme members would have less influence when they used you pronouns or more complex language consistent with the illusion of understanding. Extreme members were more confident and perceived themselves as more knowledgeable, but they did not use less complex language than other members. When extreme members did use complex language, they were less influential. Extreme members used more you pronouns and use of you pronouns reduced their influence in the group. Groups containing at least one extreme member had a much lower level of complexity in their discourse than groups without extreme members. Results are situated within research in integrative complexity, illusion of understanding, and attitude extremity.

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publication date

  • December 2016