Failure to (Mis)communicate: Linguistic Convergence, Lexical Choice, and Communicative Success in Dyadic Problem Solving

Alexandra PaxtonCognitive and Information Sciences, University of California, Merced
Jennifer M. RocheBrain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester
Alyssa IbarraBrain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester
Michael K. TanenhausBrain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester

Abstract

The current study evaluates how lexical choice impacts task performance in dyads tasked with building an object together without a shared visual environment. Our analyses suggest that, while interpersonal lexical convergence in target linguistic categories promotes successful communication, success does not require convergence in all categories. In the absence of shared visual workspaces and face-to-face communication, success increases when interlocutors converge in establishing common ground but decreases with increased co-occurrence of knowledge-state words, perhaps due to mutual hedging and uncertainty. Finally, miscommunication increases with use of ambiguous spatial terms and with markers of confusion, pointing to unique lexical signatures for successful and unsuccessful communication.

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Failure to (Mis)communicate: Linguistic Convergence, Lexical Choice, and Communicative Success in Dyadic Problem Solving (490 KB)



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