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Maybe syntactic alignment is not affected by social goals?

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Schoot,  Lotte
Neurobiology of Language Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Heyselaar,  Evelien
Neurobiology of Language Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
International Max Planck Research School for Language Sciences, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Hagoort,  Peter
Neurobiology of Language Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, External Organizations;

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Segaert,  Katrien
Neurobiology of Language Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
University of Birmingham;

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Citation

Schoot, L., Heyselaar, E., Hagoort, P., & Segaert, K. (2016). Maybe syntactic alignment is not affected by social goals?. Poster presented at Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing (AMLaP 2016), Bilbao, Spain.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-9CF4-1
Abstract
Although it is suggested that linguistic alignment can be influenced by speakers' relationship with their listener, previous studies provide inconsistent results. We tested whether speakers' desire to be liked affects syntactic alignment, and simultaneously assessed whether alignment affects perceived likeability. Primed participants (PPs) were therefore primed by another naive participant (Evaluator). PP and Evaluator took turns describing photographs with active/passive sentences. Unknown to PP, we controlled Evaluator's syntax by having them read out sentences. PPs' desire to be liked was manipulated by assigning pairs to a Control (secret evaluation by Evaluator), Evaluation (PPs were aware of evaluation), or Directed Evaluation (PPs knew about the evaluation and were instructed to make a positive impression) condition. PPs showed significant syntactic alignment (more passives produced after passive primes). However, there was no interaction with condition: PPs did not align more in the (Directed) Evaluation than in the Control condition. Our results thus do not support the conclusion that speakers' desire to be liked affects syntactic alignment. Furthermore, there was no reliable relationship between syntactic alignment and how likeable PPs appeared to their Evaluator: there was a negative effect in the Control and Evaluation conditions, but no relationship in the Directed Evaluation condition.