Status-minded folks write more formally, vs. analytically or narratively: We analysed hundreds of essays written by my students and we identified three very different writing styles: formal, analytic and narrative.
"People who score high for narrative writing tend to have better social skills, more friends and rate themselves as more outgoing." Think it's not always the case. And I have enough examples which are quite opposite.
Was this comment produced by one of those essay-writing services?
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'Reflective' also verges on 'narrative' and formal sometimes can mingle with 'analytical' too. This piece is a great analysis itself. Good read.
I deal with formal writing style in relation to status aspirations and power in Psychological roots of writers' resistance to clarity — http://tinyurl.com/lcla389 .
yeah, very good article
The three dimensions also (imo) correspond to three fundamental social drives: power, achievement, and affiliation (formal, analytic, and narrative).
(Formality is required to influence elites; influence=power.)
Insight:The ambivalence folks harbor toward formal writing expresses human ambivalence (which you've noted) toward power.
So do readers assign more status to formal writers?
You know they do: classic prose is formal writing. (It is also far-mode writing. ( http://tinyurl.com/cdzotb4 ).)
Having finally got hold of Pennebaker's book, I can confirm that the counterposition of the three "types" is misleading. Extracted by factor analysis, formal, analytic, and narrative are independent dimensions. You can still speak of types (based on relative strengths), but writers can be high on all of them or low on all of them. In other words, they can be thought of as skills—in formality, analysis, and narration.
To answer your question (while there are no doubt more subterranean reasons), the reason formal writers get more status is that one cannot be simply formal: a writer must necessarily combine formality with analysis, narration, or both. Analysis and narration relate to content; formality relates to style: its opposite is immediacy. At least to a first approximation, a formal writer is an analytic or narrative thinker who also knows how to write.
Narration can be formal or informal. An example of formal narrative is "War and Peace." An example of informal narrative is a harlequin romance.
(Formality as ability isn't quite apparent in Pennebaker's brief [even in his book] discussion of these styles, as he tends to describe formality pejoratively. I put this down to his own near-mode style.)
For anyone interested in classic prose (or the somewhat related "practical style"), I have recently stated what I regard as its first principle. ("Constructing sentences for precise emphasis: The fundamental principle of advanced writing" — http://tinyurl.com/lz4btsl )
See, this is why so-called "ideological Turing tests" can never really be trusted.
At around my second year of graduate school, I no longer blamed myself for not understanding a scientific talk, I blamed the speaker. At that point in my fields of expertise anyway, I shifted from being impressed by formal to being impressed by analysis and narrative (motivating analysis).
I suspect I am still buffaloed by formaltiy in fields in which I am not expert, although I suspect less so than the average. I believe I naturally tend towards narrative and analysis, and can still recall getting a C on one of my first college English essays for referring to Sylvia Plath as "Sylvia" which my (female) professor commented "if this had been a male would you have referred to him by his first name?" Formal matters when you are trying to become a mandarin.
Perhaps people who write formally simply aren't good at it or enjoy it. The focus is the communication of information in a simple direct matter of fact way. It may be common for students who aren't the most fluent and for the aged who aren;t the most patient. I don't think there is much status in status seeking, but they may be more doers than thinkers, so may be stronger achievers though less creative. Middle management or mundane executives perhaps.
Using a lot of informal constructions, vernacular phrases, obscenity, and even grammar errors is a powerful signal that the writer considers himself to be above (such low-level, easy-to-detect) status concerns.
>And why do you believe that you don’t?
Because I'm not all that well-read.
English teachers in High School (try to) teach people to write in a very particular way, and now I wonder whether the explicit how-to-teach-that guides talk in a way such that you could identify their goal as the same as the description of formal writing you have above. I also wonder if English teachers, asked to grade these samples for their class, would give higher grades to formal over analytical. I know from experience that most English teachers view storytelling writing as not adequate for essays. Also, see Paul Graham's essay on the essay.
> I personally don’t give more status to the formal writer because of the formality. I like the analysis and narrative more, myself, and prefer to be around people who are also more analytical and narrativist.
And why do you believe that you don't?
> Little wonder that Pennebaker’s “primary rule of word counting” is “Don’t trust your instincts.” Mere mortals, as opposed to infallible computers, are woefully bad at keeping track of the ebb and flow of words, especially the tiny, stealthy ones that most interest Pennebaker. Those are the “style” or “function” words, which, along with pronouns, include articles, prepositions, auxiliary verbs and conjunctions — all of the connective tissue of language. We’re reasonably good at picking up on “content words”: nouns, action verbs, adjectives and adverbs. But “function words are almost impossible to hear,” Pennebaker warns, “and your stereotypes about how they work may well be wrong.” (Quizzes at Pennebaker’s Web site allow readers to demonstrate just how wrong we usually get things.)
nevermind, found the post:http://www.overcomingbias.c...