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25-07-2018 | Original Article | Uitgave 2/2020

Psychological Research 2/2020

The influence of conceptual (mis)match on collaborative referring in dialogue

Psychological Research > Uitgave 2/2020
Dominique Knutsen, Ludovic Le Bigot


When two dialogue partners need to refer to something, they jointly negotiate which referring expression should be used. If needed, the chosen referring expression is then reused throughout the interaction, which potentially has a direct, positive impact on subsequent communication. The purpose of this study was to determine if the way in which the partners view, or conceptualise, the referent under discussion, affects referring expression negotiation and subsequent communication. A matching task was preceded by an individual task during which participants were required to describe their conceptualisations of abstract tangram pictures. The results revealed that participants found it more difficult to converge on single referring expression during the matching task when they initially held different conceptualisations of the pictures. This had a negative impact on the remainder of the task. These findings are discussed in light of the shared versus mutual knowledge distinction, highlighting how the former directly contributes to the formation of the latter.

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