The effect of the use of T and V pronouns in Dutch HR communication

De Hoop, H., Levshina, N., & Segers, M. (2023). The effect of the use of T and V pronouns in Dutch HR communication. Journal of Pragmatics, 203, 96-109. doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2022.11.017.
In an online experiment among native speakers of Dutch we measured addressees' responses to emails written in the informal pronoun T or the formal pronoun V in HR communication. 172 participants (61 male, mean age 37 years) read either the V-versions or the T-versions of two invitation emails and two rejection emails by four different fictitious recruiters. After each email, participants had to score their appreciation of the company and the recruiter on five different scales each, such as The recruiter who wrote this email seems … [scale from friendly to unfriendly]. We hypothesized that (i) the V-pronoun would be more appreciated in letters of rejection, and the T-pronoun in letters of invitation, and (ii) older people would appreciate the V-pronoun more than the T-pronoun, and the other way around for younger people. Although neither of these hypotheses was supported, we did find a small effect of pronoun: Emails written in V were more highly appreciated than emails in T, irrespective of type of email (invitation or rejection), and irrespective of the participant's age, gender, and level of education. At the same time, we observed differences in the strength of this effect across different scales.
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