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You and I—pronoun use and communication patterns in anxious couples

Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Scott Jensen


Studies have identified links between anxiety and couple communication, anxiety and pronoun use as well as pronoun use and communication. The current study investigated the association between pronoun use and communication in the context of anxiety. One hundred and fifteen couples rated their communication with their partner and participated in two seven-minute problem-solving discussions, which were analyzed using a linguistic word count program. Results indicate that the use of I was not associated with ratings of communication whereas use of You by either partner was related to lower ratings of communication by both men and women. Moreover, the results of several moderation analyses suggest the association between women's (but not men's) ratings of communication and men's and women's use of You and men's I was moderated by both men's and women's anxiety. Women's anxiety moderated the relationship between both partner's use of You and women's rating of couple communication and men's anxiety moderated the relationship between men's use of You and I and women's view of couple communication. The hypothesis that pronoun use mediates the relationship between anxiety and couple communication was not supported. Implications are discussed.






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