Partner-specific adaptation in spoken dialogue

Susan E. Brennan

Contact

Department of Psychology
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY 11794-2500 U.S.A.

susan.brennan@sunysb.edu

http://www.psychology.sunysb.edu/sbrennan-/

Course level

Intermediate

Course description

A key source of variation in spontaneous language use arises from the interpersonal coordination between speakers and addressees. One speaker’s utterance may shape another’s at several grains, including the phonetic, lexical, and pragmatic; as dialogue partners interact, speakers adapt their utterances to addressees, and addressees adapt to speakers. No one disputes that such adaptation occurs; instead, the debate has centered on what drives adaptation (e.g., whether variation is for-the-speaker or for-the addressee) and the time course with which it unfolds. Adaptation during dialogue often leads to convergence of linguistic form; when two speakers converge in their wording, syntax, speaking rate, or pronunciation, this has been labeled variously “interactive alignment”, “accommodation”, “entrainment”, and sometimes, “audience design”. Each of these terms carries with it some theoretical baggage about the forces underlying linguistic convergence. I will present both published and unpublished experimental data about partner-specific processing that support the idea that some processes assumed to be “automatic” can be surprisingly agile, enough so to be shaped by common ground, by the communicative needs of a partner, or by attributions about the source of variation. Finding evidence for this flexibility in processing requires juxtaposing social and cognitive factors in the same experiment. Finally, I will raise some speculative questions about the cognitive and neural underpinnings of partner-specific adaptation in spoken dialogue.

Day-to-day program

Monday

Spontaneous conversation: Grounding with visual and spoken evidence

Tuesday

Speakers adapt utterances for their addressees

Wednesday

Addressees adapt utterance interpretations to speakers

Thursday

Coordination devices in conversation

Friday

New directions in spontaneous spoken dialogue research

Reading materials

Course readings

Most papers are available for download on professors Brennan's website.

Lecture 1: Spontaneous conversation: Grounding with visual and spoken evidence

  • Brennan, S. E. (2005). How conversation is shaped by visual and spoken evidence. In J. Trueswell & M. Tanenhaus (Eds.), Approaches to studying world-situated language use: Bridging the language-as-product and language-as-action traditions (pp. 95-129). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Brennan, S. E., Galati, A., & Kuhlen, A. (2010). Two minds, one dialog: Coordinating speaking and understanding. In B. H. Ross (Ed.), The Psychology of Learning and Motivation, Vol. 53 (pp. 301-344). Burlington: Academic Press. (For today’s class, read the first part of this chapter, pp. 301-324.)
  • Lecture 2: Speakers adapt utterances for their addressees

  • Lockridge, C. B., & Brennan, S. E. (2002). Addressees’ needs influence speakers’ early syntactic choices. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 9, 550-557.
  • Galati, A. & Brennan, S. E. (2010). Attenuating information in spoken communication: For the speaker, or for the addressee? Journal of Memory and Language, 62, 35–51.
  • Lecture 3: Addressees adapt utterance interpretations to speakers

  • Metzing, C. & Brennan, S. E. (2003). When conceptual pacts are broken: Partner-specific effects in the comprehension of referring expressions. Journal of Memory and Language, 49, 201-213.
  • Brennan, S. E. & Hanna, J. E. (2009). Partner-specific adaptation in dialogue. Topics in Cognitive Science (Special Issue on Joint Action), 1, 274-291.
  • Kraljic, T., Samuel, A. G., & , Brennan, S. E. (2008). First impressions and last resorts: How listeners adjust to speaker variability. Psychological Science, 19, 332-338.
  • Lecture 4: Coordination devices in conversation

  • Brennan, S. E., Chen, X., Dickinson, C., Neider, M., & Zelinsky, G. (2007). Coordinating cognition: The costs and benefits of shared gaze during collaborative search. Cognition, 106, 1465-1477.
  • Brennan, S. E., & Ohaeri, J. O. (1999). Why do electronic conversations seem less polite? The costs and benefits of hedging. Proceedings, International Joint Conference on Work Activities, Coordination, and Collaboration (WACC '99) (pp. 227-235). San Francisco, CA: ACM.
  • Lecture 5: New directions in spontaneous spoken dialogue research

  • Brennan, S. E., Galati, A., & Kuhlen, A. (2010). Two minds, one dialog: Coordinating speaking and understanding. In B. H. Ross (Ed.), The Psychology of Learning and Motivation, Vol. 53 (pp. 301-344). Burlington: Academic Press. (For today, read the rest of this chapter, “Neural bases of partner-adapted processing”, pp. 324-337.)
  • Brown-Schmidt, S. (2009). The role of executive function in perspective taking during online language comprehension. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 16, 893–900.
  • Further readings

    • Brennan, S. E., & Clark, H. H. (1996). Conceptual pacts and lexical choice in conversation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 6, 1482-1493.
    • Brennan, S. E. (1996). Lexical entrainment in spontaneous dialog. Proceedings, 1996 International Symposium on Spoken Dialogue (ISSD-96) (pp. 41-44). Acoustical Society of Japan: Philadelphia, PA.
    • Clark, H. H., & Brennan, S. E. (1991). Grounding in communication. In L. B. Resnick, J. Levine, & S. D. Teasley (Eds.), Perspectives on socially shared cognition (pp. 127-149). Washington, DC: APA.
    • Hanna, J. E. & Brennan, S. E. (2007). Speakers' eye gaze disambiguates referring expressions early during face-to-face conversation. Journal of Memory and Language, 57, 596-615.
    • Hanna, J. E., & Tanenhaus, M. K. (2004). Pragmatic effects on reference resolution in a collaborative task: Evidence from eye movements. Cognitive Science, 28, 105–115.
    • Kraljic, T., & Brennan, S. E. (2005). Using prosody and optional words to disambiguate utterances: For the speaker or for the addressee? Cognitive Psychology, 50, 194–231.
    • Brennan, S. E., & Williams, M. (1995). The feeling of another's knowing: Prosody and filled pauses as cues to listeners about the metacognitive states of speakers. Journal of Memory and Language, 34, 383-398.