How Emotional Support and Informational Support Relate to Linguistic Alignment

  • Yafei Wang
  • David Reitter
  • John YenEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10354)


Linguistic alignment in text-based communication means that people tend to adjust their language use to one another both in terms of word choice and sentence structure. Previous studies about linguistic alignment suggested that these two forms of adaptation are correlated with each other, and that they build up to alignment at a higher representational level, such as pragmatic alignment for support functions. Two types of social support have been identified as important for online health communities (OHCs): emotional and informational support between support seekers and support providers. Do the two lower-level alignment measures (lexical and syntactic) relate to these two types of social support in the same way or, are they different? Our hypothesis was that they are similar, due to their correlation relationship. However, we found that, based on an analysis of a 10-year online forum for cancer survivors, the lower-level alignment measures have distinct relationships to the two higher-level support functions. In this paper, we describe this finding and its implications regarding potential refinement of the Interactive Alignment Model.



This work was supported by a collaborative agreement with American Cancer Society, which made the data of CSN available for this Research. The authors would like to thank K. Portier, G. Greer of the American Cancer Society, current and former members of the Cancer Informatics Initiative at the Pennsylvania State University for useful discussions and comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Information Sciences and TechnologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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