Final Published Version
Language is one powerful vehicle for transmitting norms—a universal feature of society. In English, people use “you” generically (e.g., “You win some you lose some”) to express and interpret norms. Here, we examine how norms are conveyed and interpreted in Spanish, a language that—unlike English—has two forms of you (i.e., formal, informal), distinct generic person markers, and pro-drop, allowing for an examination of underlying conceptual tendencies in how the structure of language facilitates the transmission of norms. In Study 1a-b (N = 838) Spanish speakers used informal generic-you and the generic person marker “se” (but not formal-you) to express norms (vs. preferences). In Study 2 (N = 300), formal you, informal you, and impersonal “se” had persuasive force over personal endorsements (e.g., “I”), informing Spanish speaker’s interpretation of unfamiliar norms. Our findings add to a growing literature on how subtle linguistic shifts reflect and influence cognitive processes.
Salvador, C.E., Orvell, A., Kross, E. et al. 2022. "How Spanish speakers express norms using generic person markers." Sci Rep 12.5016.