cSCAN Rounds

Direct speech reporting is selfish entertainment: Correlations between personality and use of direct versus indirect speech in story retelling.

In human communication, direct speech (e.g., She said, ?I am from Glasgow and I love whiskey?) provides vivid paralinguistic demonstrations of the reported speech act whereas indirect speech (e.g., She said that she was from Glasgow and she loved whiskey) provides a not-so-vivid summary of what was said. Moreover, direct speech involves a perspective shift from the reporter (me) to the reported speaker (e.g., She) and the original utterance is reported from the first-person perspective. By contrast, indirect speech does not require a perspective shift and the original utterance is reported from the reporter?s perspective, i.e., in the third person. The current study aimed to explore the contributions of experiences (of vivid speech) and perspective taking to the use of direct vs. indirect speech in story retelling. We reasoned that Extroversion/Introversion (Ext/Int) could index (although indirectly) one?s expressivity in verbal communication (i.e., extroverts tend to talk vividly) while Empathy could reflect one?s tendency or willingness to take another person?s perspective. We looked at how reporters? Ext/Int and Empathy predict their preference for direct speech when retelling a simple story such as The Ugly Duckling. In accompany with a series of illustrations, participants listened to a recorded version of The Ugly Duckling which contained only direct speech quotations or only indirect speech statements. They were required to retell the story out loud illustration by illustration. We found robust positive correlations between participants? Ext/Int and their preference for direct speech (more direct speech in both numbers and percentage) when retelling the story. The correlations were independent from whether the speech utterances were direct or indirect speech in the original story. The findings suggest that the use of direct speech may be determined by experiences of vivid speech (among other possibilities). By contrast, there was no correlation between Empathy and preference for direct speech. This implies that perspective taking may be a consequence rather than a deciding factor of producing direct speech quotations in story retelling. Overall, the results are consistent with the demonstration theory of direct speech (Clark and Gerrig, 1990) and shed new light on the individual differences in speech reporting.