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When is ostensive communication used for joint action?

  • Cordula Vesper

    Cordula Vesper is an Associate Professor in Cognitive Science and Cognitive Semiotics at Aarhus University. Her research investigates the cognitive mechanisms underlying coordination and communication in joint action, with a focus on how people flexibly adapt their movements when interacting with others. Her current research interests extend into social interaction in art, music, and public spaces.

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    , Tiffany Morisseau

    Tiffany Morisseau is a researcher in Cognitive Psychology at the Laboratory of Applied Psychology and Ergonomics (University of Paris). Her research projects focus on epistemic trust and the understanding of intentions in social contexts.

    , Günther Knoblich

    Günther Knoblich is a Professor at the Department of Cognitive Science at Central European University. His research interests include perception-action links, joint action, sense of agency, and problem solving.

    und Dan Sperber

    Dan Sperber is a researcher at the Institut Jean Nicod, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris and a Professor at the Department of Cognitive Science, Central European University, Vienna. He has published articles and books in anthropology, linguistics, psychology, and philosophy. His most recent book (co-authored with Hugo Mercier) is The Enigma of Reason (2017, Harvard University Press and Penguin).

Aus der Zeitschrift Cognitive Semiotics

Abstract

Joint actions typically require that information relevant for performing a task together is available to the interaction partners. In some situations, such information is perceptually retrievable and salient enough for co-actors to simply use it. In other situations, the relevant information needs to be actively shared among co-actors, e.g., by making it more perceptually salient or indicating it by means of a conventional signal. Here we consider a third case, where the information is not perceptually available and cannot be communicated by conventional means. How do joint action partners coordinate in such situations? We propose that co-actors resort to ostensive communication, that is, they draw attention to the fact that they intend to communicate some specific information. Two experiments tested the proposed role of ostensive communication for joint action. In a non-verbal joint building task, the category membership of different objects was known to only one person in a dyad, who needed to inform the partner which object type to use. In line with our hypothesis, most participants highlighted a particular object category with an ostensive gesture (characterized by containing more submovements than a natural placing movement) to resolve perceptual ambiguity. We conclude that ostensive communication is especially useful for joint action in situations where task-relevant information is not available to all co-actors and where it cannot be perceptually highlighted or conventionally communicated.


Corresponding author: Cordula Vesper, Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science, and Semiotics, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark; and Interacting Minds Center, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark, E-mail:

About the authors

Cordula Vesper

Cordula Vesper is an Associate Professor in Cognitive Science and Cognitive Semiotics at Aarhus University. Her research investigates the cognitive mechanisms underlying coordination and communication in joint action, with a focus on how people flexibly adapt their movements when interacting with others. Her current research interests extend into social interaction in art, music, and public spaces.

Tiffany Morisseau

Tiffany Morisseau is a researcher in Cognitive Psychology at the Laboratory of Applied Psychology and Ergonomics (University of Paris). Her research projects focus on epistemic trust and the understanding of intentions in social contexts.

Günther Knoblich

Günther Knoblich is a Professor at the Department of Cognitive Science at Central European University. His research interests include perception-action links, joint action, sense of agency, and problem solving.

Dan Sperber

Dan Sperber is a researcher at the Institut Jean Nicod, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris and a Professor at the Department of Cognitive Science, Central European University, Vienna. He has published articles and books in anthropology, linguistics, psychology, and philosophy. His most recent book (co-authored with Hugo Mercier) is The Enigma of Reason (2017, Harvard University Press and Penguin).

Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC Grant Agreement No. [609819], SOMICS. We thank David Csuros for his help with data collection.

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Supplementary Material

The online version of this article offers supplementary material (https://doi.org/10.1515/cogsem-2021-2040).


Received: 2021-01-04
Accepted: 2021-09-22
Published Online: 2021-11-25

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Heruntergeladen am 21.2.2024 von https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/cogsem-2021-2040/html?lang=de
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