Document Type



Author's Final Manuscript

Publication Title

Social and Personality Psychology Compass

Publication Date



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.


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