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'You’ can be quite persuasive
Sentences that employ the generic or impersonal second-person — where “you” really stands in for “everyone,” as in, “You should read Hour Detroit every month” — tend to resonate better with readers, according to a study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and led by University of Michigan psychology and linguistics professor Susan Gelman. Gelman and her co-authors analyzed 1,120 passages in 56 popular books that were highlighted by readers on Kindle, where readers can see what other readers have taken special note of. Passages with the generic “you” were 8.5 times more likely to be highlighted, the researchers found. “This study is a really nice example of how sensitive people are to even a subtle variation in perspective and language,” Gelman says.
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