cSCAN Rounds

Expectations of Consistency in Communication

Speakers tend to be consistent in the referential expressions they choose for particular referents during dialogue, and there is now considerable evidence that listeners benefit from such consistency. Listeners are faster to identify a referent when speakers use expressions that have been used before (the "maintained precedent" effect); furthermore, listeners are slower to identify a referent when it is referred to using a different expression (the "broken precedent effect"). However, there has been considerable debate over the extent to which these benefits reflect egocentric versus partner-specific processing, as well as the timing of partner-independent and partner-specific processing. I will present results from a meta-analysis of studies in this area which indicates surprising consistency in the extent and timing of effects across studies, and that supports the view that comprehension is dominated by partner-independent effects.