By on June 13, 2014

Looks Speech Can Be Deceiving

By Elizabeth Ballou @BallouElizabeth

So, like, it turns out that the way you, like, use certain words can, you know, say things about your, um, personality. Which, you know, makes sense, because, like, people who think about what they want to, like, say —

OK, I’m even driving myself crazy. But you see what I’m on about here: the way you make use of verbal fillers, such as “like,” “you know,” “I mean,” and so on can signify specific personality traits. In a new study from the University of Texas at Austin, researchers discovered that people who use these fillers more often are more likely to consider what they want to say and how to say it.

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By looking at 263 transcriptions from five studies, the researchers were able to break down these “linguistic crutches” into two types: filled pauses and discourse markers. Filled pauses are words like “um” and “ah,” which, according to the study, everyone uses. However, discourse markers — ”like” chief among them — can signify that the speaker is female, young, conscientious of his or her speech patterns, or a combination of those characteristics. In the Journal of Language and Social Psychology, the research group wrote:

The possible explanation for this association is that conscientious people are generally more thoughtful and aware of themselves and their surroundings. When having conversations with listeners, conscientious people use discourse markers, such as ‘I mean’ and ‘you know’ to imply their desire to share or rephrase opinions to recipients.
These findings put a new spin on what’s often called “valley girl talk,” usually in a derogatory manner that’s associated with Karen from Mean Girls and Elle Woods from Legally Blonde.

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Jessica Strickland

About Jessica Strickland

I’m a lady whose ordinary, needs that ‘extra’. With a background in corporate communications, I love the thrill of connecting with audiences and engaging with their interests. I’m fairly certain in a past life I was a mermaid…ok, I’m totally certain. One day I’ll be living ocean side again. I love animals, and my golden retriever puppy Briar, is my pride and joy. @pr_in_heels

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