CSCAN ROUNDS
Thursday June 27th 2013, 1:00pm
CLARIFYING INTENTIONS IN DIALOGUE: MISCOMMUNICATION DRIVES ABSTRACTION
One of the most contentious debates in studies of dialogue concerns the
explanatory role assigned to speakers‘ intentions.

To address this issue, this talk reports a computer-mediated variant of the
maze task (Pickering & Garrod, 2004), which manipulates the dialogue by
inserting artificial clarification requests that appear, to participants, as if
they originate from each other. Two kinds of clarification were introduced: (1)
Artificial "Why?" questions that query participants' intentions behind their
utterance (2) Fragment clarification requests that repeat a single word from the
prior turn, querying the content of participants' referring expressions.

During the dialogue, as coordination develops, "Why?" clarification requests
become progressively easier to respond to, while for fragment clarification
requests the converse is the case. Further, fragment clarification requests that
are introduced at the start of the interaction lead to interlocutors aligning
quicker on more abstract and systematic referring expressions. Participants who
receive these fragment clarification requests also converge quicker than
participants in a baseline condition who received no interventions.

This talk argues that this differential pattern is due to the interplay between
two kinds of coordination problem. First, interlocutors must coordinate on the
semantics of their referrring expressions. Second, interlocutors are also faced
with the procedural coordination problem of managing the timing and sequencing
of their contributions. This talk argues that both kinds of coordination are
primarily driven by negative evidence of understanding; problem detection and
resolution drives convergence.
PRESENTED BY
Dr. Gregory Mills
from the School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh
INVITED BY
Nicolas Fay