Exploring the affective impact of interpersonal influence messages

James Price Dillard, Claire Dzur Harkness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The principal reason for carrying out this study was to establish a relationship between the linguistic form of influence messages and their affective outcomes. A subordinate goal was to examine the impact of perceptions of legitimacy, a key feature of influence attempts, on affect. Eight directives, i.e. short strings of words intended to change the behaviour of a target person, were developed that varied in terms of explicitness and dominance. These were incorporated into a scenario in which one person sought to borrow another's classnotes under conditions of high or low legitimacy. Subjects listened to an audiotape description of the scenario, in which they were asked to imagine themselves as the target of the directive, then provided ratings of their affective states. The results revealed an interaction between explicitness and dominance such that directives high in both produced anger, annoyance, and surprise. Legitimacy was a strongedictor of affective outcomes; it showed significant associations with anger, annoyance, surprise, depression, sleepiness, happiness, delight and relaxation, as well as arousal and valence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-191
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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