Echoes of power:  Language effects and power differences in social interaction

Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, Lillian Lee, Bo Pang and Jon Kleinberg.

Proceedings of WWW, 2012.


Data and Code:  ConvoKit: a toolkit for analyzing conversations (including coordination)


                                      Effect of status change on the level of linguistic style coordination:


Media coverage:

                                    MIT’s Technology Review blog: Algorithm Measures Human Pecking Order

                                    Österreichischer Rundfunk (Austrian national broadcaster): Sprache: Das Echo der Macht

Talk Slides:

                                    Version prepared and presented by Lillian Lee at the “New Directions in Analyzing Text as Data” conference

                                    Version prepared and presented by Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil at the WWW 2012 conference

Related Papers: 

                                     Mark my Words!

                                     Chameleons in Imagined Conversations

Related Research:         

                                    Conversational Behavior



Understanding social interaction within groups is key to analyzing online communities. Most current  work focuses on structural properties: who talks to whom, and how such interactions form larger network structures.  The interactions themselves, however, generally take place in the form of natural language --- either spoken or written --- and one could reasonably suppose that signals manifested in language might also provide information about roles, status, and other aspects of the group's dynamics.  To date, however,  finding such domain-independent language-based signals has been a challenge.

Here, 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.  Starting from this observation, we propose an analysis framework  based on linguistic coordination that can be used to shed light on power relationships and that works consistently across multiple types of power --- including a more ''static'' form of power based on status differences, and a more ''situational'' form of power in which one individual experiences a type of dependence on another. Using this framework, we study how conversational behavior can reveal power relationships in two very different settings: discussions among Wikipedians  and arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court.




  author={Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil and Lillian Lee and Bo Pang and Jon


  title={Echoes of power: {Language} effects and power differences in social


  booktitle={Proceedings of WWW},





Coordination of the user (as speaker) and, respectively, towards the user (as target) in the months before and after status change occurs.