[PS-1.51] Maybe syntactic alignment is not affected by social goals?

Schoot, L. 1 , Heyselaar, E. . 1 , Hagoort, P. . 1, 2 & Segaert, K. 3, 1

1 Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
2 Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
3 School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

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.