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Compensatory Jargon: Feeling Lower in Status Increases the Use of Jargon
Across four studies, including both experimental and archival data, we provide support for the hypothesis that people follow or violate linguistic norms in order to manage listener impressions. Specifically, feeling lower in status will motivate an individual to use more jargon. We also establish that attention towards the evaluative judgement of the audience mediates this effect. When participants felt lower in status compared to others, they were more likely to cite the evaluative judgement or situational concerns as a reason behind their preference for jargon compared to those higher in status. These findings contribute to our understanding of how and why individuals use jargon and how linguistic norms are established, maintained and evolve over time.