Martin Corley
Thu 28 Sep 2017, 16:10 - 17:00

If you have a question about this talk, please contact: Mirjam Eiswirth (s1322502)

This talk takes place in 7 Bristo Square, Lecture Theatre 1

Recent research shows that listeners are sensitive to disfluencies in unfolding discourse, using them to modify predictions about what will be said.  But how do they interpret the pragmatic content of the message?  I present a series of experiments examining these issues using a "lying game" in which speakers identify the locations of treasure, either fluently or disfluently.  Results show that listeners robustly interpret disfluency as a clue to dishonesty, and that this happens early in comprehension, even where other evidence is available.  However, when there is a plausible exogenous cause of the disfluency such as speaker distraction, this effect is modulated, suggesting that listeners are causally interpreting the disfluencies uttered.  It is therefore surprising that an interactive version of the paradigm where speakers' utterances are freely generated suggests that listeners' judgements may be misguided: Speakers tend to be more disfluent when telling the truth, although listeners steadfastly continue to distrust disfluent speech.

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