Comprehension of indirect requests is influenced by their degree of imposition

Stewart, Andrew and Le-luan, Elizabeth and Wood, Jeffrey S. and Yao, Bo and Haigh, Matthew (2017) Comprehension of indirect requests is influenced by their degree of imposition. Discourse Processes.

[img] Text
WOOD_IN PRESS_Discourse Processes.pdf - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 11 January 2019.

Download (783kB)

Abstract

In everyday conversation, much communication is achieved using indirect language. This is particularly true when we utter requests. The decision to use indirect language is influenced by a number of factors including deniability, politeness, and the degree of imposition on the receiver of a request. In this paper we report the results of an eye-tracking experiment examining the influence on reading of the degree of imposition of a request. We manipulate whether context describes a situation in which the level of imposition on the receiver of the request is high (which thus motivates the use of indirect language) with one in which the level of imposition is low (and thus does not motivate the use of indirect language). We compare the comprehension of statements that are phrased indirectly with the comprehension of statements that are phrased more directly. We find that statements phrased indirectly are read more quickly in contexts where the level of imposition on the receiver is high versus when the level of imposition is low. In contrast, we find the processing of statements phrased directly does not vary as a function of level of imposition. This indicates that readers use pragmatic knowledge to guide interpretation of indirect requests. Our data provide an insight into the interface between pragmatic and semantic processing.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: C800 Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences > Dept. Psychology
UoA Collections > UoA 04: Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience
Depositing User: Silvio Aldrovandi
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2017 18:03
Last Modified: 24 Aug 2017 15:27
URI: http://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/4743

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Research

In this section...