Can we tell someone’s social status by looking at their email?

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Intragroup interactions between high and low status members on Internet message boards were examined. Messages from low status members to high status members and vice versa were rated for degree of conformity, ingratiation, agreeing, requesting, and instructing. Text was also analyzed using the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count program. Low status member messages were rated as more conforming, ingratiating, and agreeing than high status member messages. Low status members also used more first person singular voice, affective words, and exclamation marks. High status member messages were rated as more instructive than low status member messages. High status member messages contained more complex words, second person references, and welcoming language than did low status member messages. Language use in online contexts clearly differs depending on group member status.

Source: “Online Interactions Between Group Members Who Differ in Status” from Journal of Language and Social Psychology

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