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Show Me You Care: Trait Empathy, Linguistic Style and Mimicry on Facebook

Otterbacher, Jahna, Ang, Chee Siang, Litvak, Marina, Atkins, David (2016) Show Me You Care: Trait Empathy, Linguistic Style and Mimicry on Facebook. ACM Transactions on Internet Technology, 17 (1). Article Number 6. ISSN 1533-5399. E-ISSN 1557-6051. (doi:10.1145/2996188) (KAR id:57425)

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Linguistic mimicry, the adoption of another’s language patterns, is a subconscious behavior with pro-social benefits. However, some professions advocate its conscious use in empathic communication. This involves mutual mimicry; effective communicators mimic their interlocutors, who also mimic them back. Since mimicry has often been studied in face-to-face contexts, we ask whether individuals with empathic dis- positions have unique communication styles and/or elicit mimicry in mediated communication on Facebook. Participants completed Davis’ Interpersonal Reactivity Index and provided access to Facebook activity. We confirm that dispositional empathy is correlated to the use of particular stylistic features. In addition, we identify four empathy profiles and find correlations to writing style. When a linguistic feature is used, this often “triggers” use by friends. However, the presence of particular features, rather than participant dispo- sition, best predicts mimicry. This suggests that machine-human communications could be enhanced based on recently used features, without extensive user profiling.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1145/2996188
Uncontrolled keywords: Affect, empathic response, empathy, interpersonal relations, linguistic alignment, linguistic mimicry, linguistic style, social media
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics (inc Computing science)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences > School of Engineering and Digital Arts
Depositing User: Chee Siang Ang
Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2016 10:07 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:37 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Ang, Chee Siang:
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