Author Archives: mindandlanguage

Why a Businesswoman is a Bitch

This is not a post with an agenda. I’m not interested in the way some subset of people might have sexist beliefs. There is no soapbox about the evils of sexism. Just recently, Dr. Melissa Williams at Emory University and Dr. Larissa Tiedens at Stanford went beyond the typical “How people see business women vs. business […]

Are you warm and industrious or cold and a workaholic?

A single word can change everything. The psychologist Solomon Asch found that people formed very different opinions of this person depending on which of the following lists they read: intelligent, skillful, industrious, warm, determined, practical, cautious OR intelligent, skillful, industrious, cold, determined, practical cautious. Other research shows that warm and cold, both the words and […]

How to be offensive without offending

How do you say, “Yes, you look terrible in that dress?” It’s hard to tell someone something you know they won’t like to hear, or that they at least don’t want to have you tell them. Criticism, complaints, orders, and even requests can be threatening. In fact, it’s called face threat. Generally, people want to […]

The line between linguistics and psychology

Some one asked a good question on Reddit this week: “What is the relationship between linguistics and psychology? I am undergraduate majoring in psychology – but I’ve always said that if I wasn’t a psychology major, I would be a linguistics major. It seems to me that the two fields are very similar, they ask […]

The cooperative principle of user experience

Do you want Chinese or Italian tonight? Yes. …if you’re mildly infuriated right now, you have a good grasp of the cooperative principle. Grice was a linguist who said that effective communication depends on all the speakers cooperating in moving the conversation along. He had four rules, or maxims, that are part of this cooperation: […]

Predicting behavior accurately takes the right kind of measurement

Unshockingly, you have to ask the right questions to get the right answers. A lot of research has gone into trying to predict whether someone will do something based on their attitude towards it. Intuitively, it feels like if you’re interested in whether someone will, say, recycle their newspaper, knowing their attitudes toward environmentalism should […]

How a door in the face might be as effective as a foot in the door

If you’re trying to sell something to someone, you can sometimes get a metaphorical foot in the door by getting them to agree to a small thing before going after the big one. A smaller agreement sets up the relationship, and going from $25 to $80 is a lot less intimidating than going from $0 to […]