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Giving Good Directions: Order of Mention Reflects Visual Salience

Clarke, Alasdair DF and Elsner, Micha and Rohde, Hannah (2015) 'Giving Good Directions: Order of Mention Reflects Visual Salience.' Frontiers in Psychology, 6. ISSN 1664-1078

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In complex stimuli, there are many different possible ways to refer to a specified target. Previous studies have shown that when people are faced with such a task, the content of their referring expression reflects visual properties such as size, salience, and clutter. Here, we extend these findings and present evidence that (i) the influence of visual perception on sentence construction goes beyond content selection and in part determines the order in which different objects are mentioned and (ii) order of mention influences comprehension. Study 1 (a corpus study of reference productions) shows that when a speaker uses a relational description to mention a salient object, that object is treated as being in the common ground and is more likely to be mentioned first. Study 2 (a visual search study) asks participants to listen to referring expressions and find the specified target; in keeping with the above result, we find that search for easy-to-find targets is faster when the target is mentioned first, while search for harder-to-find targets is facilitated by mentioning the target later, after a landmark in a relational description. Our findings show that seemingly low-level and disparate mental “modules” like perception and sentence planning interact at a high level and in task-dependent ways.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: referring expressions, visual search, visual salience
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2017 13:36
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2019 15:15

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