Partner-specific adaptation in dialogue
No one denies that people adapt what they say and how they interpret what is said to them, depending on their interactive partners. What is controversial is when and how they do so. Several psycholinguistics research programs have found what appear to be failures to adapt to partners in the early moments of processing and have used this evidence to argue for modularity in the language processing architecture, claiming that the system cannot take into account a partner’s distinct needs or knowledge early in processing. We review the evidence for both early and delayed partner-specific adaptations, and we identify some challenges and difficulties with interpreting this evidence. We then discuss new analyses from a previously published referential communication experiment (Metzing & Brennan, 2003) demonstrating that partner-specific effects need not occur late in processing. In contrast to Pickering and Garrod (2004) and Keysar, Barr, and Horton (1998b), we conclude that there is no good evidence that early processing has to be be “egocentric,”“dumb,” or encapsulated from social knowledge or common ground, but that under some circumstances, such as when one partner has made an attribution about another’s knowledge or needs, processing can be nimble enough to adapt quite early to a perspective different from one’s own.
Brennan, Susan E., and Joy E. Hanna. 2009. "Partner-specific adaptation in dialogue." Topics In Cognitive Science 1: 274-291.
Topics In Cognitive Science
Special Issue: Joint Action