Douglas, K.M. and Sutton, R.M.
When what you say about others says something about you: Language abstraction and inferences about describers' attitudes and goals.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 42
ISSN 0022-1031 .
(Full text available)
According to the linguistic category model (Semin & Fiedler, 1988, 1991), a person's behavior can be described at varying levels of abstraction from concrete (e.g., "Lisa slaps Ann") to abstract (e.g., "Lisa is aggressive"). Research has shown that language abstraction conveys information about the person whose behavior is described (Wigboldus, Semin, & Spears, 2000). However to date, little research has examined the information that language abstraction may convey about describers themselves. In this paper, we report three experiments demonstrating that describers who use relatively abstract language to describe others' behaviors are perceived to have biased attitudes and motives compared with those describers who use more concrete language
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