Algorithm estimates who’s in control

Jan 4, 2012

Jon Kleinberg, whose work influenced Google’s PageRank, is working on ranking something else. Kleinberg et al. developed an algorithm that ranks people, based on how they speak to each other.

“We show that in group discussions, power differentials between participants are subtly revealed by how much one individual immediately echoes the linguistic style of the person they are responding to,” say Kleinberg and co.

The key to this is an idea called linguistic co-ordination, in which speakers naturally copy the style of their interlocutors. Human behaviour experts have long studied the way individuals can copy the body language or tone of voice of their peers, some have even studied how this effect reveals the power differences between members of the group.

Now Kleinberg and co say the same thing happens with language style.

That’s why I just don’t talk at all. Introvert to the max.

[Technology Review]

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