Typing speed and fluency as cues to uncertainty in the real-time production of written messages

Arielle V. Elliott, William S. Horton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In spoken communicative contexts, speakers often convey uncertainty via intonation and through paralinguistic behaviours such as speech rate and gesture—and addressees can use these behaviours to generate inferences about the speaker’s epistemic state. In text-based contexts, however, cues of this sort are more restricted. In this study, we examine the expression and reception of epistemic information in the context of real-time written message production. We hypothesised that real-time typing dynamics (like those available in text-based collaborative contexts, such as Google Docs) can function as a rich paralinguistic cue about a partner’s epistemic state. In Experiment 1, we collected production data showing that manipulations of typist certainty, instantiated through both the ease of message formulation and repeated experience with the task, are reflected in measures of typing fluency and speed. Then, in Experiment 2, we presented select screen recordings of the typing behaviours from Experiment 1 to a group of independent observers who made epistemic judgements about the typist. Our results show that observable differences in typing speed and fluency contribute to perceptions of typist knowledge and confidence, which has implications for interfaces that enable real-time text-based collaboration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • collaborative writing
  • epistemic inference
  • real-time communication
  • typing behaviour
  • written message production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology
  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Typing speed and fluency as cues to uncertainty in the real-time production of written messages'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this