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Abstract

The use of linguistic abstraction in self-presentation was examined. Participants, whose goal it was to be liked by recipients, presented their political views to an audience of two people. Participants learned beforehand that the two recipients had the same political views as the participant, that both had different political views from the participant, or that one had similar views to and one had dissimilar views from the participant. Theorising that variations in the degree of linguistic abstractness used by participants when describing their political views were related to their social goals, it was hypothesised that participants would describe their political views at a higher level of linguistic abstractness when communicating with a similar agreeing audience than when communicating with a mixed audience. Results confirmed this hypothesis. The role of linguistic abstractness in achieving self-presentational goals is discussed. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.