About the up- and downside of innuendos

Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, explains the logic behind using innuendos instead of speaking straight.

Relationship types (dominance, communality and reciprocity) are reflected in language. If the relationship type  is not clearly  defined, innuendos are one way to avoid conflict. Moreover, the content of innuendos only create individual knowledge instead of mutual knowledge and that´s why their content (if inappropriate) can be “taken back”.

The video also explains, why for example calling the boss by his or her first name might cause akwardness among employees instead of comfort. It also explains why mutual knowledge is so important in change-processes. This leads us back to the key role that access to information has in a democracy.

For more videos from the RSA go to RSA Comment.