Best prices Special offers for members of the PWE book club The cheapest delivery
DOI: 10.33226/1231-7853.2022.3.2
JEL: M31
Wojciech Kulesza ORCID: 0000-0001-5457-6396 , e-mail: wkulesza|| |wkulesza|
Paweł Muniak ORCID: 0000-0003-3983-147X , e-mail: pmuniak|| |pmuniak|
Dariusz Doliński ORCID: 0000-0002-4225-4258 , e-mail: ddolinsk|| |ddolinsk|
Tomasz Grzyb ORCID: 0000-0002-1080-5000 , e-mail: tgrzyb|| |tgrzyb|

LOL! Can textual paralanguage be useful in marketing?

Textual Paralanguage (TPL) is widely used in marketing practice. However, there is no consensus on its effectiveness. Since mimicry is a good proxy for communication effectiveness, we set out to determine if TPL is in fact being mimicked (in spoken or written form: "hm," "aaaa," "lol" which are exemplars of the TPL), and consequently, whether TPL is an effective tool in marketing communication. In three studies, participants took part in interviews and were randomly assigned to two condition groups. In the experimental group, the experimenter incorporated elements of TPL in the conversation. The control group had no exposure to TPL. We used several measures of the tendency to mimic TPL. The experiments were run at a university in Poznań (Poland), at the turn of 2017 and 2018. We found that TPL, often used in marketing communication, was not mimicked at all, and thus may not be beneficial to the agent using it. The findings of this paper contradict the everyday practice of marketing communication. The results are consistent across all three experiments. In light of the reported experiments, people do not imitate TPL in communication, which may signify that the expected benefits are lacking.

Download article
Keywords: mimicry; imitation; written communication; textual paralanguage; emoji in marketing



Bowman, A., & Azzalini, A. (2018). Package "sm"[R package].

Cappella, J. N., & Planalp, S. (1981). Talk and silence sequences in informal conversations III: Interspeaker influence. Human Communication Research, 7(2), 117–132.

Chartrand, T. L., & Bargh, J. A. (1999). The chameleon effect: The perception-behavior link and social interaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76(6), 893–910.

Das, G., Wiener, H. J. D., & Kareklas, I. (2019). To emoji or not to emoji? Examining the influence of emoji on consumer reactions to advertising. Journal of Business Research, 96, 147–156.

Dijksterhuis, A. (2005). Why we are social animals: The high road to imitation as social glue. Perspectives on Imitation: From Neuroscience to Social Science, 2, 207–220.

Duffy, K. A., & Chartrand, T. L. (2015). Mimicry: causes and consequences. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 3, 112–116.

Ganster, T., Eimler, S. C., & Krämer, N. C. (2012). Same same but different!? The differential influence of smilies and emoticons on person perception. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 15(4), 226–230.

Ge, J., & Gretzel, U. (2018). Emoji rhetoric: A social media influencer perspective. Journal of Marketing Management, 34(15–16), 1272–1295.

Giles, H. (1973). Accent mobility: A model and some data. Anthropological Linguistics, 15(2), 87–105.

Giles, H., & Powesland, P. F. (1975). Speech style and social evaluation. Academic Press.

Guéguen, N. (2009). Mimicry and seduction: An evaluation in a courtship context. Social Influence, 4(4), 249–255.

Guéguen, N., Martin, A., Meineri, S., & Simon, J. (2013). Using mimicry to elicit answers to intimate questions in survey research. Field Methods, 25(1), 47–57.

Hartsuiker, R. J., Bernolet, S., Schoonbaert, S., Speybroeck, S., & Vanderelst, D. (2008). Syntactic priming persists while the lexical boost decays: Evidence from written and spoken dialogue. Journal of Memory and Language, 58(2), 214–238.

Hayes, J. L., Britt, B. C., Applequist, J., Ramirez, A., & Hill, J. (2020). Leveraging textual paralanguage and consumer-brand relationships for more relatable online brand communication: A social presence approach. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 20(1), 17–30.

Jacob, C., Guéguen, N., Martin, A., & Boulbry, G. (2011). Retail salespeople's mimicry of customers: Effects on consumer behavior. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 18(5), 381–388.

Jakobson, R. (1971). Selected writings [of] Roman Jakobson: Word and language. Mouton.

JASP Team. (2021). JASP (Version 0.16)[Computer software].

Johar, S. (2015). Emotion, affect and personality in speech: The bias of language and paralanguage. Springer.

Ki, C., & Kim, Y. (2019). The mechanism by which social media influencers persuade consumers: The role of consumers' desire to mimic. Psychology & Marketing, 36(10), 905–922.

Kulesza, W., Szypowska, Z., Jarman, M. S., & Dolinski, D. (2014). Attractive chameleons sell: The mimicry-attractiveness link. Psychology & Marketing, 31(7), 549–561.

Lakin, J. L., Jefferis, V. E., Cheng, C. M., & Chartrand, T. L. (2003). The chameleon effect as social glue: Evidence for the evolutionary significance of nonconscious mimicry. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 27(3), 145–162.

Leung, C. H., & Chan, W. T. Y. (2017). Using emoji effectively in marketing: An empirical study. Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing, 5(1), 76–95.

Li, X., Chan, K. W., & Kim, S. (2018). Service with emoticons: How customers interpret employee use of emoticons in online service encounters. The Journal of Consumer Research, 45(5), 973–987.

Luangrath, A., Peck, J., & Barger, V. (2017a). Make your tweety bird tweet: Use of textual paralanguage in brand and spokescharacter online communications. ACR North American Advances.

Luangrath, A., Peck, J., & Barger, V. (2017b). Textual paralanguage and its implications for marketing communications. Journal of Consumer Psychology: The Official Journal of the Society for Consumer Psychology, 27(1), 98–107.

Martin, A., Gueguen, N., & Fischer-Lokou, J. (2010). The impact of guilt on mimicry behavior. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 38(7), 987–991.

Mulder, J., Gu, X., Olsson-Collentine, A., Tomarken, A., Böing-Messing, F., Hoijtink, H., Meijerink, M., Williams, D. R., Menke, J., Fox, J.-P., Rosseel, Y., Wagenmakers, E.-J., & van Lissa, C. (2019). BFpack: Flexible bayes factor testing of scientific theories in R. In arXiv [stat.CO]. arXiv.

Neumann, R., & Strack, F. (2000). "Mood contagion": The automatic transfer of mood between persons. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79(2), 211–223.

R Core Team. (2021). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing.

Rivera, K., Cooke, N. J., & Bauhs, J. A. (1996). The effects of emotional icons on remote communication. Conference Companion on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 99–100.

Rodríguez-Hidalgo, C., Tan, E. S. H., & Verlegh, P. W. J. (2017). Expressing emotions in blogs: The role of textual paralinguistic cues in online venting and social sharing posts. Computers in Human Behavior, 73, 638–649.

Sumer, S. I. (2017). A brief perspective on emoji marketing. International Journal of New Technology and Research, 3(9).

Suvilehto, J. T., Glerean, E., Dunbar, R. I. M., Hari, R., & Nummenmaa, L. (2015). Topography of social touching depends on emotional bonds between humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(45), 13811–13816.

Swaab, R. I., Maddux, W. W., & Sinaceur, M. (2011). Early words that work: When and how virtual linguistic mimicry facilitates negotiation outcomes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47(3), 616–621.

van Baaren, R. B., Holland, R. W., Kawakami, K., & van Knippenberg, A. (2004). Mimicry and prosocial behavior. Psychological Science, 15(1), 71–74.

van Baaren, R. B., Holland, R. W., Steenaert, B., & van Knippenberg, A. (2003). Mimicry for money: Behavioral consequences of imitation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 39(4), 393–398.

van Swol, L. M. (2003). The effects of nonverbal mirroring on perceived persuasiveness, agreement with an imitator, and reciprocity in a group discussion. Communication Research, 30(4), 461–480,

Venables, W. N., & Ripley, B. D. (2002). Random and mixed effects. In W. N. Venables & B. D. Ripley (Eds.), Modern Applied Statistics with S (pp. 271–300). New York: Springer.

Wagenmakers, E.-J., Wetzels, R., Borsboom, D., & van der Maas, H. L. J. (2011). Why psychologists must change the way they analyze their data: The case of psi: Comment on Bem (2011). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(3), 426–432.

Walther, J. B., & D'Addario, K. P. (2001). The impacts of emoticons on message interpretation in computer-mediated communication. Social Science Computer Review, 19(3), 324–347.

Yngve, & Victor, H. (1970). On getting a word in edgewise. Chicago Linguistics Society, 6th Meeting, 1970, 567–578.

Article price
Price of the magazine number
197.00 €
Lowest price in last 30 days: 158.00
get subscription