Title

The I’s, We’s, And She/he’s Of Breakups: Public And Private Pronoun Usage In Relationship Dissolution Accounts

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-1-2014

Publication Title

Journal Of Language And Social Psychology

Department

Communication Studies

Abstract

People adjusting from couplehood to singlehood often engage in account creation in order to privately make sense of their relationship life and death, as well as publicly explain the changes to their social network. This study analyzes language style differences in retrospective private and public accounts of relationship breakups. We examined language use as it relates to the creation of accounts, breakup initiator status, and relationship dissolution adjustment. We found that (a) public and private breakup accounts contain different types and percentages of first-person and third-person pronouns, (b) pronoun use differs based on the breakup initiator, and (c) use of first-person singular and plural pronouns predicts post-breakup adjustment. Findings suggest that language style differences in private and public accounts from the same person may illustrate variations in how individuals adjust to stressful experiences.

Volume

33

Issue

2

pp.

202-213

ISSN

0261-927X