Do people really say it is "likely" when they believe it is only "possible"? Effect of politeness on risk communication

Juanchich, Marie and Sirota, Miroslav (2013) Do people really say it is "likely" when they believe it is only "possible"? Effect of politeness on risk communication. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 66(7), pp. 1268-1275. ISSN (print) 1747-0218

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Politeness theory posits that speakers can use verbal probabilities (e.g., there is a chance, it is likely) to hedge bad news. So far, only indirect evidence supports that claim: From the hearer's standpoint, verbal probabilities are interpreted either as plain likelihood-communication devices or as face-management devices, resulting in different risk perceptions. The present research aims to test more directly the postulate of politeness theory by focusing on the effects of speakers' intentions on risk communication. In three experiments, participants communicated a probability by choosing an expression from a list of verbal probabilities. Results consistently showed that polite speakers communicated a different risk magnitude than informative speakers. Further findings indicate that the effect of the speakers' intention depends on the valence of the uncertain outcome. The theoretical and applied implications of these findings are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: risk communication, politeness, likelihood communication, face management
Research Area: Psychology
Faculty, School or Research Centre: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (until 2017) > School of Psychology, Criminology and Sociology (from November 2012)
Faculty of Business and Law (until 2017)
Faculty of Business and Law (until 2017) > Centre for Research in Employment, Skills and Society (CRESS)
Faculty of Business and Law (until 2017) > Kingston Business School (Leadership, HRM and Organisation) (until July 2013)
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Depositing User: Marie Juanchich
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2013 16:48
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2014 09:11

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