Call for Participation in Research Study - Terms of Endearment

Consider how many times each day you hear, in casual conversations, terms of endearment used (e.g.,girlfriend, dude, sweetie, honey, friend, baby, sugar, and other similar terms.) Do you hear these terms of endearment used in professional conversations? If so, how do you perceive these comments when they are directed toward you? Do they affect your perceptions of the person using them in professional conversations? Do you find yourself using them? If so, when do you use them, and under what circumstances?      

Study Description and Purpose:  Terms of endearment in the workplace have long been viewed as a cultural anomaly—mostly geographically related—not something pervasive that should be considered problematic to the communication process. However, the use of terms such as dude, girlfriend, boyfriend, and sister, among others, are being used in workplaces in this country, sometimes with little thought as to the perceptions of the individuals being labeled by those terms. The casual conversations people have with friends have permeated the workplace, including the personal communication aspect involving terms of endearment.

This research study aims to (1) identify whether, when overly familiar personal communication habits cross into the professional realm, any changes in the dynamics of a relationship between the person who uses the term and the recipient of the communication occur; (2) examine how demographics (age, ethnicity, geographic region, sexual orientation, or culture) impact the perception of overly personal communication patterns; and (3) address the legal and ethical implications of the use of language.

The resulting data can help fill a void in the existing research by adding perspectives of various groups about the use of terms of endearment in professional environments and answer the question: What is the impact of overly familiar personal communication habits on professional relationships?

IRB Details

Study Title: How Personal Should Personal Communication Be? The Impact of Overly Familiar Personal Communication Habits on Professional Relationships

Protocol Case: 2023-1203

Approval Date: January 23, 2024

Principal Investigators:  Dr. Susan L. Luck, Dr. K. Virginia Hemby, and Dr. Susan Schanne

Institutions: Pfeiffer University and Middle Tennessee State University

Risks & Benefits: Participation in this study presents no risks besides possible discomfort with some of the questions. You have no real benefits from participating besides learning about the research.

Additional Information: Completing the Qualtrics survey should take 15 to 20 minutes. You will NOT be asked to provide any identifiable personal information. All efforts, within reason, will be made to keep the personal information in your research record private, but total privacy cannot be promised. Your information may be shared with people at Pfeiffer University (such as the Pfeiffer University Institutional Review Board), or other agencies (such as the Federal Government Office for Human Research Protection), if you or someone else is in danger or if we are required to do so by law.

For additional information about your rights as a study participant, contact the Pfeiffer University Institutional Review Board at (704) 463-3301 or email Dr. Tom V. Darling, Chair.                                                                                                           

Survey Link:Terms of Endearment Survey   Response due by March 15, 2024.   
You will be given a chance to read the entire Informed Consent before completing the survey.     

To receive a copy of the final report of this study (or a summary of findings,) please contact us:

Dr. Susan L. Luck
Dr. K. Virginia Hemby
Susan Schanne


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Call for Participation in Research Study - Terms of Endearment