Limited visual control of the intelligibility of speech in face-to-face dialogue

A. H. Anderson, E. G. Bard, C. Sotillo, A. Newlands, G. Doherty-sneddon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Speakers are thought to articulate individual words in running speech less carefully whenever additional nonacoustic information can help listeners recognize what is said (Fowler & Housum, 1987; Lieberman, 1963). Comparing single words excerpted from spontaneous dialogues and control tokens of the same words read by the same speakers in lists, Experiment 1 yielded a significant but general effect of visual context: Tokens introducing 71 new entities in dialogues in which participants could see one another's faces were more degraded (less intelligible to 54 naive listeners) than were tokens of the same words from dialogues with sight lines blocked. Loss of clarity was not keyed to moment-to-moment visual behavior. Subjects with clear sight lines looked at each other too rarely to account for the observed effect. Experiment 2 revealed that tokens of 60 words uttered while subjects were looking at each other were significantly less degraded (in length and in intelligibility to 72 subjects) vis-à-vis controls than were spontaneous tokens of the same words produced when subjects were looking elsewhere. Intelligibility loss was mitigated only when listeners looked at speakers. Two separate visual effects are discussed, one of the global availability and the other of the local use of the interlocutor's face.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)580-592
Number of pages12
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 1997


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