How do listeners time response articulation when answering questions? The role of speech rate

Ruth Corps, Chiara Gambi, Martin Pickering

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

During conversation, interlocutors often produce their utterances with little overlap or gap between their turns. But what mechanism underlies this striking ability to time articulation appropriately? In two verbal yes/no question-answering experiments, we investigated whether listeners use the speech rate of questions to time articulation of their answers. In Experiment 1, we orthogonally manipulated the speech rate of the context (e.g., Do you have a…) and final word (e.g., dog?) of questions using time-compression, so that each component was spoken at the natural rate or twice as a fast. Listeners responded earlier when the context was speeded rather than natural, suggesting they used the speaker’s context rate to time answer articulation. Additionally, listeners responded earlier when the speaker’s final syllable was speeded than natural, regardless of context rate, suggesting they adjusted the timing of articulation after listening to a single syllable produced at a different rate. We replicated this final word effect in Experiment 2, which also showed that our speech rate manipulation did not influence the timing of response preparation. Together, these findings suggest listeners use speech rate information to time articulation when answering questions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Early online date26 Sept 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Sept 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • speech rate
  • time compression
  • prediction
  • turn-taking
  • question-answering


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