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Matching Language, True Love?
Date:1/12/2011

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 12 (HealthDay News) -- The next time you have a first date, forget about chemistry and common interests.

What really matters, new research suggests, is whether your language styles match.

How can you boost the chances of that, you ask? Well, it's kind of like chemistry -- it's there or it isn't.

The kind of language style the researchers focused on was the use of such words as personal pronouns (I, his, their); articles (a, the); prepositions (in, under), and adverbs (very, rather) -- the types of words most people don't give much thought to.

But when this language style is in synch with someone else's, well, the sparks might just fly, said study author James Pennebaker, the chair of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. He and his colleagues evaluated the language style of 40 men and 40 women who were speed dating and found that the more it matched, the better. When speed daters picked their matches, they tended to go for those whose language style matched their own, he found.

"You are four times more likely to match and probably go on a date if your language style matching is even just above average," he said.

In a second study, Pennebaker's team looked at 86 couples' instant message exchanges and found that language style matching mattered there, too. Participants were age 19, on average, many of them living in different towns as they attended school.

"These are wonderful groups to study," Pennebaker said. "They have notoriously unstable relationships."

They had to be dating at least six months. "What we found is if their IMs were high in language style matching they were much more likely to be together three months later," he said.

Those with the highest matching, he said, "were 50 percent more likely to be dating at follow-up."

The study was recently published online in the journal Psychological S
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