Five studies explored the ways relative rank is revealed among individuals in small groups through their natural use of pronouns. In Experiment 1, four-person groups worked on a decision-making task with randomly assigned leadership status. In Studies 2 and 3, two-person groups either worked on a task or chatted informally in a get-to-know-you session. Study 4 was a naturalistic study of incoming and outgoing e-mail of 9 participants who provided information on their correspondents’ relative status. The last study examined 40 letters written by soldiers in the regime of Saddam Hussein. Computerized text analyses across the five studies found that people with higher status consistently used fewer first-person singular, and more first-person plural and second-person singular pronouns. Natural language use during group interaction suggests that status is associated with attentional biases, such that higher rank is linked with other-focus whereas lower rank is linked with self-focus
Kacewicz, E., Pennebaker, J. W., Davis, M., Jeon, M., & Graesser, A. C. (2014). Pronoun use reflects standings in social hierarchies. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 33(2), 125-143.