Speaker-External Versus Speaker-Internal Forces on Utterance Form: Do Cognitive Demands Override Threats to Referential Success?

Lane, Liane Wardlow; Ferreira, Victor S.
November 2008
Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory & Cognition;Nov2008, Vol. 34 Issue 6, p1466
Academic Journal
To what extent do speaker-external communicative pressures versus speaker-internal cognitive pressures affect utterance form? Four experiments measured speakers' references to privately known (i.e., privileged) objects when naming mutually known (i.e., common ground) objects. Although speaker-external communicative pressures demanded that speakers avoid references to privileged objects, 2 experiments showed that speakers often ignored this demand when it coexisted with a speaker-internal pressure to attend to those privileged objects. The authors hypothesize that this was due to increased salience of privileged objects (a speaker-internal pressure). Experiment 3 showed that directly boosting the salience of privileged objects increased the likelihood that speakers will inappropriately refer to those objects. Experiment 4 showed that the salience-sensitive mechanism in Experiments 1 and 2 is likely related to the mechanism causing such references in Experiment 3. Thus, the language production system is especially sensitive to cognitive pressures even when communicative harm results.


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