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Practical matters How to find us dr. J. (Jorrig) Vogels

dr. J. (Jorrig) Vogels

dr. J. (Jorrig) Vogels

NWO Veni project 'Try to see it my way: when do speakers consider the listener’s perspective?' (275-89-036)

Human communication is regarded as a cooperative process. Yet, there is ample evidence that speakers regularly fail to take their listener’s knowledge into account. Instead, they use their own perspective to make linguistic choices, for example how much information to provide when referring to a person (e.g. the brown-haired girl or she). Existing explanations for this self-centered behavior have mostly overlooked the impact of two potentially important factors: the situational context and the characteristics of the listener. Combining analyses of natural spoken language with controlled language production experiments in which aspects of the situational context and the listener are systematically varied, this project aims to provide a more complete explanation for why speakers appear to adapt their language use to the addressee’s needs in some cases, but not in others. It is hypothesized that speakers only make the effort to include the listener’s perspective in their utterances if they have compelling reasons to believe that this perspective differs from their own, for instance if they talk about an object that the listener cannot see, or when they speak to a child or a foreigner. In contrast to many earlier studies, the experiments will explicitly separate the listener’s perspective from the speaker’s, to ensure that changes in the speaker’s language use can be attributed to an adaptation to the listener’s perspective. In addition, to be able to directly tap into the cognitive processes underlying perspective taking in language production, eye movement and pupil size measures will be used. These techniques are rarely applied in language production research. The results of this project will benefit natural language generation systems, by improving the human-likeness of automatically generated utterances across varying communicative contexts. They will also contribute to enhancing successful communication in multiple societal domains, such as health care and immigration.

Last modified:25 June 2022 10.46 a.m.