Study: People who use 'like' as a linguistic crutch tend to be more thoughtful

Study also finds that virtually everyone frequently punctuates their verbal communication with "uh" and "um."
By Matt Bradwell  |  Updated June 10, 2014 at 3:45 PM
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AUSTIN, Texas, June 10 (UPI) -- A new study published by the Journal of Language and Social Psychology says that individuals who use filler words such as "you know," "um" and "like" are more likely to be self-aware and socially conscientious.

Researchers at the University of Texas studied the use of filler words in 263 transcriptions of conversations from five separate studies. They identified five commonly-used linguistic crutches and broke them into two categories -- filled pauses and discourse markers.

Filled pauses "uh" and "um" were used indiscriminately by all participants. However, discourse markers "I mean," "you know" and "like" were most common among young people, women and those who were more conscientious than most.

"The possible explanation for this association is that conscientious people are generally more thoughtful and aware of themselves and their surroundings," the study says.

"When having conversations with listeners, conscientious people use discourse markers, such as 'I mean' and 'you know,' to imply their desire to share or rephrase opinions to recipients. Thus it is expected that the use of discourse markers may be used to measure the degree to which people have thoughts to express."

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