Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Science and the Language of Love

I read ScienceBlog to get new ideas for worldbuilding and plots, but I never thought it could help me write dialogue.

In a recent study, psychologists studied couples on speed dates. Specifically, they looked at their language styles to see how well they matched. The couples whose styles matched most closely were more likely to want additional contact with each other. A second study showed that couples whose writing style matched in online chats were more likely to be together three months later. From the article on ScienceBlog, it appears that as two people who are attracted to each other talk, they unconsciously synchronize their language, just as people may establish bonds with others by mirroring their body language.

As a writer, I immediately thought of ways to apply this to writing. If you want to indicate attraction between two characters, you could come up with ways to make their speech patterns similar, at least when they're talking to each other. However, it might be tricky to do this without making it too obvious. This could also be used within a love triangle to offer a subtle clue as to who winds up with whom.

Finally, if you have copies of e-mails or IM transcripts between you and your sweetie (or between your two characters), you can try matching language styles here.


Eric said...

That is interesting Sandra, but I'm finding it hard to imagine how I'd do that in dialogue. Maybe change from formal speech to slang if that were right for two people? Good food for thought at least.

Elena Solodow said...

Very cool. And it makes sense too.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Eric, I think slang is a good idea. Maybe sentence structure would also count.

Elena, I'm glad you liked it!

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