The Interactive Effects of Request Form and Speaker Status on Judgments of Requests

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Interactive Effect, Significant Interaction, College Student, Cognitive Psychology, Laboratory Study

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The interactive effects of request form and speaker status on judgments of requests were investigated in a laboratory study of metapragmatics. College students (N=132) read scenarios in which speakers made requests of them. Speakers were higher in status, peers, or lower in status than the subjects, and the requests were imperatives with semantic aggravators, embedded imperatives, or permission directives with semantic softeners. Subjects rated the speakers with respect to how rude/polite, humble/arrogant, and powerful/weak they were being. Significant interactions were obtained for the first two ratings, indicating that the speaker status effect was stronger with permission directives than with the other requests. These findings suggest that listeners view unexpectedly indirect requests as more impolite and sarcastic than requests used in other situations and, more generally, that language meaning is a function of both form and context.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, v. 18, issue 5, p. 521-531