Persuasiveness of requests: the influence of language and account.
Requests can be used to satisfy a need by attaining assistance. A request is a face-threatening act that imposes on the hearer’s freedom of action. To manage this delicate social situation, accounts are used to show the relevance of a request. Accounts are also used in the workplace to ensure compliance with a request. However, in today’s multilingual workplace, it is not known to what extent a foreign language can affect the persuasiveness of requests and how it interacts with the processing of an account. An experiment with a 2 × 2 between-subjects design was conducted to investigate the effect of language and account on the persuasiveness of a request. Native Dutch-speaking adults with work experience (N = 159) were presented with a description of a work situation in a multinational company in which their colleague requested them to pick up a package. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions, two English conditions (account present/absent) and two Dutch conditions (account present/absent). No significant differences were found. There was also no significant interaction between language and account. The absence of any significant results was speculated to be because of the insufficient explanatory effect of the account, the high familiarity of the participants with English, as well as the high linguistic similarity between English and Dutch. The findings suggest that the use of English as a foreign language may not increase the persuasiveness of a request to fellow coworkers in the workplace among highly educated native Dutch-speaking adults who also speak English as a foreign language. The persuasiveness of accounts may depend on factors such as the social distance between interactants. However, more research is needed to investigate this further.
Faculteit der Letteren