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A sociolinguistic indicator of group membership


Previous research into the acoustical paralinguistic features of dyadic interview conversations by this author have shown that conversation partners adapt features of their paralinguistic expression to one another, and that this adaptation is continually reconstituted as the conversation proceeds over time. The research reported herein shows that the adaptation phenomenon is also capable of quantitatively and objectively selecting out specific conversations associated with persons who share membership in a consolidated group. It is apparent in this study that members of a consolidated group, in comparison with disparate individuals, engage in a kind of paralinguistic cryptocommunication constitting a code signifying their membership. This form of communication is obviously not consciously known and controlled by conversation partners, for the means of extricating it derives from the employment of several intricate computer routines. In the final portion of this article, prominent competing explanations of the results are discussed. These alternate explanations generally take the form of technical artifacts that offer a more prosaic account of the research results. In order to dispel these looming technical artifactual possibilities, various critical tests are advanced. The results of this research are a substantial and innovative step in the refinement of method and instrumentation to further our understanding of the sociolinguistic binding medium of group membership.

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Gregory, S.W. A sociolinguistic indicator of group membership. J Psycholinguist Res 15, 189–207 (1986).

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  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Research Result
  • Alternate Explanation
  • Group Membership
  • Critical Test