The Effects of Language Abstraction on Similarity and Likeability in Personal Descriptions

Gilbert, Lucille-Michi
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2015]
Highly abstract or concrete language communicates different types of information. Variations in language abstraction in descriptive language have been observed to affect the impressions made between the subject that the description is referring to, the individual describing the subject, and the individual receiving the description about the subject. The current study examined the effects of language abstraction in descriptive language when an individual describes his or herself to another. This study predicted an interaction effect between descriptions’ levels of language abstraction and the positive or negative valence of the description. Each participant read a profile that was assigned a specific valence and level of abstractness, and then rated the subject of the profile on perceived similarity and likeability. Results indicated a significant positive linear relationship: as positive profiles increased in abstractness, so did ratings of likeability and similarity. A comparable but negative relationship was observed for the negative profiles but failed to achieve significance. Suggestions and implications of the current study are discussed.
M.A. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2015.
Includes bibliographical references.
Language abstraction, Linguistic category model, similarity, likeability
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