Conceptual Effects of Audience Design in Human–Computer and Human–Human Dialogue

Christopher Schmader, William S. Horton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Speakers in conversation often tailor referring expressions in ways that reflect beliefs about the knowledge and perspectives of specific addressees. In this study we examined whether such audience design can influence speakers’ conceptualizations of referents beyond the conversation. In a Wizard-of-Oz paradigm, participants identified novel images either for an ostensible computer dialogue application or for a human partner as part of a referential communication task. Subsequently, they independently sorted the task images into discrete groups. Consistent with audience design, when interacting with the computer a greater proportion of participants’ descriptions in the dialogue task focused on literal, geometric features compared with descriptions for the human partner. Importantly, participants’ postdialogue sorts were also more shape-based after human–computer interaction. Different ways of attending to objects for communicative purposes can affect how speakers construe objects for themselves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)170-190
Number of pages21
JournalDiscourse Processes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 17 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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