Language power and persuasion

Charles S. Areni*, John R. Sparks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Powerless language involves the use of various linguistic markers (i.e., hedges, intensifiers, deictic phrases, overly polite language, tag questions, and verbal and nonverbal hesitations), which signify relatively low social status in a given communication context. Powerful language suggests higher social status and is characterized largely by the absence of these markers. The results of a laboratory experiment indicated that language power influenced attitudes toward a hypothetical new consumer electronics product, regardless of whether the communication was presented in print versus videotape. For both print and video modalities, speakers using powerful language were more persuasive than speakers using powerless language. However, powerless language had the additional effect of generating more thoughts about the speaker. These results are discussed in terms of the multiple roles postulate of the elaboration-likelihood mode.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-525
Number of pages19
JournalPsychology and Marketing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2005


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