NEW YORK, Oct. 28, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but if you're running for President, mimicking your competitors in a debate might just give you the advantage.
According to new research from Columbia Business School, candidates in the 2016 presidential race should consider matching their opponent's verbal style instead of actively trying to create their own. The study found that presidential candidates who mirrored the linguistic style of opponents in a debate experienced a significant and positive change in polls.
Adam Galinsky, professor at Columbia Business School and author of Friend & Foe, and his co-authors examined all presidential debates from 1976 to 2012 to measure the extent that candidates matched linguistic styles. He and his colleagues analyzed the Gallup presidential race polls before and after each debate and found a one-point median gain in polls for those candidates who matched the linguistic style of their opponents.
While some may argue that matching styles might have a negative impact on a candidate's authority and leadership, Galinsky's research debunks that assumption.
"Our findings illustrate how matching an opponent's linguistic style can benefit a candidate's standing in the polls," said Galinsky. "We propose this benefit occurs for two reasons. First, when a candidate linguistically matches others in the debate, the statements are easier to process and understand. Second, linguistic matching allows candidates to be seen as having a greater understanding of the issues."
The research defines language style matching as the way people in a conversation subtly match each other's speaking style, echoing the other's vernacular. The language style matching is thought to be an unconscious activity, suggesting that those who mimic others may be unaware of its impact.
Galinsky and his colleagues also conducted an experiment to establish a causal connection between linguistic matching and more positive third-party impressions. They had participants read negotiation transcripts and rate which of them was the better negotiator. They found that the negotiator who linguistically matched their opponent was seen as the more effective negotiator.
To learn more about the cutting-edge research being conducted at Columbia Business School, please visit www.gsb.columbia.edu.
About Friend & Foe
In Friend & Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both [Crown Business/ September 29, 2015], Columbia Business School professor Adam Galinsky and co-author Maurice Schweitzer unpack how every relationship – from colleagues to siblings to spouses – is characterized by a tension between cooperation and competition. By finding the right balance between friend and foe, the authors show how we can get better outcomes in life, both at work and in our personal lives.
About Columbia Business School
Columbia Business School is the only world–class, Ivy League business school that delivers a learning experience where academic excellence meets with real–time exposure to the pulse of global business. Led by Dean Glenn Hubbard, the School's transformative curriculum bridges academic theory with unparalleled exposure to real–world business practice, equipping students with an entrepreneurial mindset that allows them to recognize, capture, and create opportunity in any business environment. The thought leadership of the School's faculty and staff, combined with the accomplishments of its distinguished alumni and position in the center of global business, means that the School's efforts have an immediate, measurable impact on the forces shaping business every day. To learn more about Columbia Business School's position at the very center of business, please visit www.gsb.columbia.edu.
SOURCE Columbia Business School