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Chitchat, not fate, may predict relationship success


In fairytales, and teen TV dramas, kindred spirits are usually brought together by fate or love at first sight, but new research suggests that, in reality, the sign of whether you've met Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now is actually language style compatibility.

In a study (registration required) published this month in Psychological Science, researchers conducted two experiments to determine whether the speaking and writing styles couples adopt when interacting predict future dating behavior and relationship strength. According to a journal release:

In the first study, pairs of college students had four-minute speed dates while their conversations were recorded. Almost every pair covered the same topics: What's your major? Where are you from? How do you like college? Every conversation sounded more or less the same to the naked ear, but text analysis revealed stark differences in language synchrony. The pairs whose language style matching scores were above average were almost four times as likely to want future contact as pairs whose speaking styles were out of sync.

A second study revealed the same pattern in everyday online chats between dating couples over the course of 10 days. Almost 80 percent of the couples whose writing style matched were still dating three months later, compared with approximately 54 percent of the couples who didn't match as well.

The researchers have provided free access to their language synchrony model - just in case you'd like to analyze chats or e-mails between you and that special someone.

Photo by Kevin Dooley

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