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Am “I” more important than “we”? Couples’ word use in instant messages

Authors


  • Richard B. Slatcher, Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles; Simine Vazire, Department of Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis; James W. Pennebaker, Department of Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin.

  • A grant from the National Institutes of Health (MH52391) funded portions of this research. We would like to thank Andrew Lupo, Anne Marshall, and Janna Miller for their assistance with data collection; Tessa West for her assistance with analyses; and Benjamin Karney and Theodore Robles for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article.

Richard B. Slatcher, Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, e-mail: slatcher@ucla.edu.

Abstract

Recent studies have identified robust associations between the types of words that people use and their psychological health. This study investigated whether couples’ word use in their daily instant messages (IMs) is linked to the quality and stability of their relationships. Sixty-eight dating couples in the United States submitted 10 days of IM conversations with each other, which were analyzed with a linguistic word count program. Six months later, couples indicated whether they were still dating. Pronoun use and emotion word use both were associated with relationship satisfaction and stability. These findings extend previous research showing that the frequencies of certain words that people use are associated with the quality of their social relationships.

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