Language style matching predicts relationship initiation and stability

Molly E. Ireland, Richard B. Slatcher, Paul W. Eastwick, Lauren E. Scissors, Eli J. Finkel, James W. Pennebaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

175 Scopus citations

Abstract

Previous relationship research has largely ignored the importance of similarity in how people talk with one another. Using natural language samples, we investigated whether similarity in dyads' use of function words, called language style matching (LSM), predicts outcomes for romantic relationships. In Study 1, greater LSM in transcripts of 40 speed dates predicted increased likelihood of mutual romantic interest (odds ratio = 3.05). Overall, 33.3% of pairs with LSM above the median mutually desired future contact, compared with 9.1% of pairs with LSM at or below the median. In Study 2, LSM in 86 couples' instant messages positively predicted relationship stability at a 3-month follow-up (odds ratio = 1.95). Specifically, 76.7% of couples with LSM greater than the median were still dating at the follow-up, compared with 53.5% of couples with LSM at or below the median. LSM appears to reflect implicit interpersonal processes central to romantic relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-44
Number of pages6
JournalPsychological Science
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2011

Keywords

  • LIWC
  • dyads
  • language
  • relationship stability
  • romantic relationships

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    Ireland, M. E., Slatcher, R. B., Eastwick, P. W., Scissors, L. E., Finkel, E. J., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2011). Language style matching predicts relationship initiation and stability. Psychological Science, 22(1), 39-44. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797610392928