Title

The Effect of Comprehension Feedback and Listener Age on Speech Complexity

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2011

Publication Title

Journal of Language and Social Psychology

First Page

46

Last Page

65

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0261927X10387101

Abstract

Forty college-aged participants told a story and gave verbal walking directions to either a same-age peer or a 75-year-old adult. The listeners gave some participants comprehension feedback and gave other participants mixed comprehension and noncomprehension feedback. Analyses examined length of utterance immediately preceding or following feedback cues. Participants did not globally simplify their speech when talking to the older compared with the young adult. However, speech was sensitive to comprehension feedback from both listeners, and listener age affected speech complexity by influencing the magnitude of this fine tuning effect. Participants simplified their speech more in response to feedback cues from the older than the young listener. Taken together, these results suggest that fine tuning applies to conversations between adults and speech accommodations may be further “fine tuned” based on other factors such as listener age.

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