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Speaking of Receptiveness: The Role of Receptive Language In Spoken and Written Conflict Conversations

We explore the role of conversational receptiveness in counterpart conflict experience in conversations held over different communication media. Students were recruited across US universities to participate in four experiments (total N = 1,537). We found that spoken conversations led to less conflict, and receptiveness was associated with less conflict. In addition, we found that receptiveness scores were higher in speech than in text and that the effect of medium on counterpart experienced conflict was mediated by the participants' receptiveness. When speaking, people tended to communicate more receptively, leading to reduced conflict experienced by others. We also found that receptiveness was differently associated with conflict in the speaking vs writing conditions. Our results suggest that one (of many) reasons why conflict is lower when speaking than writing is because people use more receptive language. But receptiveness in language was more closely associated with lower conflict in text communication than speech.

Burint Bevis
Imperial College London
United Kingdom

Michael Yeomans
Imperial College London
United Kingdom

Juliana Schroeder
University of California, Berkeley
United States


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