Abstract

Miscommunication is often seen as a detrimental aspect of human communication. However, miscommunication can differ in cause as well as severity. What distinguishes a miscommunication where conversation partners continue to put forth the effort from miscommunication where conversation partners simply give up? In this eye-tracking study, participants heard globally ambiguous statements that were either a result of an experimental error or speaker underspecification; participants either received positive or negative feedback on these ambiguous trials. We found that negative feedback, paired with the reliability of the message, will impact the amount of processing effort a comprehender puts forth—specifically, listeners were less forgiving of errors when they were penalized and when speakers instructions lacked effort. This suggests that language users weigh conversational contexts and outcomes as well as linguistic content during communication.

Keywords: ambiguity; intentions; communication; comprehension, context

Modified Abstract

Miscommunication is often seen as detrimental to human communication. However, miscommunication can differ in cause and severity. What distinguishes a miscommunication where conversation partners continually put forth effort from miscommunication where conversation partners simply give up? In this eye-tracking study, participants heard globally ambiguous statements either as a result of an experimental error or speaker underspecification; participants received positive or negative feedback on these ambiguous trials. We found that negative feedback, paired with the reliability of the message, impacts the amount of processing effort a comprehender exerts—specifically, listeners were less forgiving of errors when penalized and when speakers’ instructions lacked effort. This suggests that language users weigh conversational contexts and outcomes as well as linguistic content during communication.

Keywords: ambiguity; intentions; communication; comprehension, context

Research Category

Psychology

Primary Author's Major

Speech Pathology & Audiology

Mentor #1 Information

Dr. Jennifer Roche

Presentation Format

Poster

Start Date

March 2016

Research Area

Cognitive Psychology | Interpersonal and Small Group Communication | Speech Pathology and Audiology

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Mar 15th, 1:00 PM

Tit-for-Tat: Effects of Feedback and Speaker Reliability on Listener Comprehension Effort

Miscommunication is often seen as a detrimental aspect of human communication. However, miscommunication can differ in cause as well as severity. What distinguishes a miscommunication where conversation partners continue to put forth the effort from miscommunication where conversation partners simply give up? In this eye-tracking study, participants heard globally ambiguous statements that were either a result of an experimental error or speaker underspecification; participants either received positive or negative feedback on these ambiguous trials. We found that negative feedback, paired with the reliability of the message, will impact the amount of processing effort a comprehender puts forth—specifically, listeners were less forgiving of errors when they were penalized and when speakers instructions lacked effort. This suggests that language users weigh conversational contexts and outcomes as well as linguistic content during communication.

Keywords: ambiguity; intentions; communication; comprehension, context