Author's Final Manuscript
Social and Personality Psychology Compass
One of the most fundamental, yet often overlooked, compo-nents of language is the personal pronoun system. Pronouns reveal and empower different perspectives, providing insight into and even altering how a person is conceptualiz-ing the self. Here, we illustrate how the pronouns “I,” “you,” and “we” can enable shifts in perspective that bring a person further from, or closer to, others. We additionally highlight the implications of these pronoun shifts on the address-ee(s). We review a growing body of research that focuses on how these words can function as both windows—provid-ing insight into the thoughts and emotions of a speaker, and levers—that can subtly alter the speaker's and addressee(s)’ thoughts, emotions, and even behaviors, across a range of domains. We conclude by discussing possibilities for future research.
Orvell, A., Gelman, S. A., & Kross, E. 2022. "What “you” and “we” say about me: How small shifts in language reveal and empower fundamental shifts in perspective." Social and Personality Psychology Compass: e12665.
Available for download on Tuesday, April 01, 2025